Wal-Mart: The Face of Twenty-First-Century Capitalism

Overview

An indispensable introduction to the company that will define the twenty-first century economy.

Edited by one of the nation's preeminent labor historians, this book marks an ambitious effort to dissect the full extent of Wal-Mart's business operations, its social effects, and its role in the U.S. and world economy. Wal-Mart is based on a spring 2004 conference of leading historians, business analysts, sociologists, and labor leaders that ...
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New York 2006 Paperback First edition NEW The Face of Twenty-First-Century Capitalism. 444pp. Octavo [24cm] Hardcover in dustjacket. From the publisher: "Edited by one of the ... nation's preeminent labor historians, this book marks an ambitious effort to dissect the full extent of Wal-Mart's business operations, its social effects, and its role in the U.S. and world economy. Wal-Mart is based on a spring 2004 conference of leading historians, business analysts, sociologists, and labor leaders that immediately attracted the attention of the national media, drawing profiles in the New York Times, Los Angeles Times, and the New York Review of Books. Their contributions are adapted here for a general audience. At the end of the nineteenth century the Pennsylvania Railroad declared itself ?the standard of the world. ? In more recent years, IBM and then Microsoft seemed the template for a new, global information economy. But at the dawn of the twenty-first century, Wal-Mart has overtaken all rivals as the world-tra Read more Show Less

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Wal-Mart: The Face Of Twenty-First-Century Capitalism

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Overview

An indispensable introduction to the company that will define the twenty-first century economy.

Edited by one of the nation's preeminent labor historians, this book marks an ambitious effort to dissect the full extent of Wal-Mart's business operations, its social effects, and its role in the U.S. and world economy. Wal-Mart is based on a spring 2004 conference of leading historians, business analysts, sociologists, and labor leaders that immediately attracted the attention of the national media, drawing profiles in the New York Times, Los Angeles Times, and the New York Review of Books. Their contributions are adapted here for a general audience.

At the end of the nineteenth century the Pennsylvania Railroad declared itself "the standard of the world." In more recent years, IBM and then Microsoft seemed the template for a new, global information economy. But at the dawn of the twenty-first century, Wal-Mart has overtaken all rivals as the world-transforming economic institution of our time.

Presented in an accessible format and extensively illustrated with charts and graphs, Wal-Mart examines such topics as the giant retailer's managerial culture, revolutionary use of technological innovation, and controversial pay and promotional practices to provide the most complete guide yet available to America's largest company.
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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
Culled from an April 2004 conference on Wal-Mart at the University of California, Santa Barbara, these essays can be redundant, but they offer stimulating perspectives on the world's largest corporation. The rise of Wal-Mart, declares editor Lichtenstein (Walter Reuther), has been abetted by a "southernized, deunionized, post-New Deal America," a business culture in which labor costs can be squeezed, even as a company promotes loyalty via "faux classlessness." Several chapters place these phenomena in context: describing how Wal-Mart represents both an extension of and a quantum leap from previous retail giants and how it places unprecedented price pressure on its suppliers. Wal-Mart saves consumers money, the contributors argue, but only by externalizing many social and economic costs, including benefits for its workers. One provocative chapter, based on anonymous worker sources, describes a workplace atmosphere of relentless stress and understaffing. Some interesting tidbits: Wal-Mart hit a wall trying to expand in Mexico and never gained traction in Germany, in both cases because of the countries' different socioeconomic structures. A final chapter, by a union organizer, proposes a "Wal-Mart Workers Association" for this infamously antiunion company. The association would gain 13,000 members if only 1% of the Wal-Mart workforce joined. (Jan.) Copyright 2005 Reed Business Information.
Library Journal
Typically, books about Wal-Mart either blindly praise the budget behemoth or else denounce it for its race-to-the-bottom labor practices, among other things. This book does neither. Rather, editor Lichtenstein (history, Univ. of California, Santa Barbara) has collected papers from a conference of the same name that was held at the Center for Work, Labor and Democracy at the University of California, Santa Barbara, in 2004. The book's 12 selections are divided into three categories: "History, Culture, Capitalism," "A Global Corporation," and "Working at Wal-Mart." Authors include social and labor historians, economists, anthropologists, union leaders, and management specialists. Overall, the papers are scholarly in nature and include charts, graphs, tables, and footnotes. Yet they are also accessible and interesting and provide insight into what is now the world's largest company. While not a book for leisure readers looking to learn new management secrets, it provides views of the many sectors that Wal-Mart now occupies in our lives and our (increasingly global) economy. Highly recommended for academic libraries.-Susan Hurst, Miami Univ. Libs., Oxford, OH Copyright 2005 Reed Business Information.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781595580214
  • Publisher: New Press, The
  • Publication date: 1/1/2006
  • Pages: 349
  • Product dimensions: 7.90 (w) x 7.90 (h) x 1.20 (d)

Meet the Author

Nelson Lichtenstein is a professor of history at the University of California, Santa Barbara. He is the author of Walter Reuther, Labor's War at Home, and State of the Union.
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Table of Contents

Preface
1 Wal-Mart : a template for twenty-first-century capitalism 3
2 Woolworth to Wal-Mart : mass merchandising and the changing culture of consumption 31
3 It came from Bentonville : the agrarian origins of Wal-Mart culture 57
4 Growth through knowledge : Wal-Mart, high technology, and the ever less visible hand of the manager 83
5 Making global markets : Wal-Mart and its suppliers 107
6 The Wal-Mart effect and the new face of capitalism : labor market and community impacts of the megaretailer 143
7 Wal-Mart and the logistic revolution 163
8 Wal-Mart in Mexico : the limits of growth 189
9 Making the new shop floor : Wal-Mart, labor control, and the history of the postwar discount retail industry in America 213
10 Patriarchy at the checkout counter : the Dukes v. Wal-Mart stores, Inc., class action suit 231
11 How to squeeze more out of a penny 243
12 A Wal-Mart workers association? : an organizing plan 261
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Sort by: Showing all of 2 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted July 13, 2012

    Boring

    Boring

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  • Anonymous

    Posted May 17, 2010

    A group of intellectuals tackle America's giant.

    On average, every minute almost 10 000 consumers visit an American Wal-Mart store. It is the largest private employer in the United States and Mexico and operates stores in eight different countries. There is no denying the ubiquity of the corporation in our everyday lives and the significant role that it plays in determining the future of our world economy. Nelson Lichtenstein attempts to explore the profound influence as well as the humble beginnings of this multinational giant in his collection of essays, Wal-Mart: The Face of Twenty-First-Century Capitalism. Lichtenstein, a professor of history at the University of California Santa Barbara, assembled the diverse group of scholars to compare their perspectives on Wal-Mart and the "global manufacturing-transport-distribution chain in which that corporation is the largest and most significant link" (x). The common theme that is expressed throughout the book is that Wal-Mart has become the template for twenty-first-century capitalism. While all of the contributors may agree on that aspect, their opinions deviate on whether this template is the source of a capitalist revolution or demise. Although each essay is written independent of each other, they are broadly organized into three sub-themes: History, Culture, Capitalism; A Global Corporation; and Working at Wal-Mart. These three themes aim to explain Wal-Mart's phenomenal rise to the top, and their strategies to remain there.

    Wal-Mart's ruthless ascent to the top is as much attributable to favourable timing and location as its charismatic founder, Sam Walton. The first Wal-Mart discount store opened in Bentonville, Arkansas in 1962 with a simple concept; generate high inventory turnovers using low markups. In order to maintain low markups, Walton realized that it was absolutely necessary to keep labour costs at a minimum. Fortunately, the New Deal and civil rights revolution had not been firmly established in Arkansas which meant that Walton could play around with minimum wage laws. Moreover, thousands of men and women were desperate for jobs after the agricultural revolution, which made farming more capital intensive. As the years went on, Wal-Mart capitalized on events such as the failure of unionization in Arkansas, Reaganomics, and NAFTA to keep costs low. While other discount retailers and the dominant corporation of the time GM suffered from rising wages, Wal-Mart actually saw their real wages decrease in the years after 1970. This is nothing out of the ordinary as Wal-Mart has built an empire based on being different and trying new techniques to increase efficiency. As Wal-Mart grew, it tirelessly searched for innovative technologies to implement in order to improve their economies of scale. For example, the use of communications technology reduced management costs and allowed Wal-Mart to expand while still being able to micromanage each individual store. It was evident that Wal-Mart was changing the way retailers conducted business. It was only a matter of time before Wal-Mart took over the rest of the world.

    For years, retailers were forced to accept the manufacturer's prices if they wanted to do business. The emergence of Wal-Mart shifted the power towards retailers because manufacturers were fighting to get their products on Wal-Mart (cont'd at http://kevindilee.blogspot.com/2010/05/book-review-wal-martl-face-of-twenty.html)

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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