The Wal-Mart Group: Business Research and Management

Introduction

Most businesses fail to perform well, not because of lack of capital but not using the correct approach when it comes to business research and management. It is because of this that many business professors, analysts as well lecturers have come up with different books, magazines, and journals on business research and management. This paper looks at the importance of the same (business research and management) to both the entrepreneur as well as the consumer. The paper will also look at the different types / methods that can be used for the study.

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In addition, the paper will focus on a company that has successfully incorporated the various aspects of business research and management and how they have helped the company register growth and market penetration. The company selected will be one that either deals with fast moving products (consumables) or one that deals with real estate development and management. The growth and development of the internet communication and technology industry has greatly contributed to the success of many sectors, the paper will look at the role ICT has played in relation to business research and management.

Background information

Many organizations fail to either identify their clientele or correct employees to spearhead the business process. Such organizations can model their business process and eventually have a competitive edge. Business research and management is defined as the core of an organizations structure and operations. Scholarly debates about the role of management in strategy execution and the business process is what maters most. Empirical research on communication between senior level managers and those on the bottom of the pyramid show that execution of strategies is strained due to poor communication between the two levels. This brings about the context of communication as a key ingredient of management.

Simulation provides teamwork with a reason to succeed. A framework for strategy execution is in good stead if there is a simulation. Management should be inductive for the strategy to work. Frameworks for strategies are inductively developed. By drawing assumptions from small business, management policies and types of management practices determine the future direction of the organization. Attempts to develop small business management theories have yielded significant results most of which show that, it’s the top level management that influences positive attitudes and employee output.

These projections explain why organizations fail due to poor management approaches. Scholarly debates on the management paradigms further show that, there is a rationale in using small business models as frameworks for departmental management. It is like using the small business model as a department in the organization. Using the structure as the guideline, success in achievable in the department. This is however through induction and adaptation of task environment, management characteristics, and issues of success, failure, and growth into the strategy framework.

Research aims and objectives

Understanding the management process, role of managers and the contours of the management characteristics is vital in strategy execution, success in growth and development of an organization. How can managers turn organizations into more functional institutions? How can management be turned into a process of change, development, and value? This paper explores how management can be improved and turned into success for the organization, drawing from examples of successful organizations, model businesses, and theories of business research and management.

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By drawing facts about the small business success, organizations can redefine their management policies and framework and induce them in their system to achieve success. By viewing the small business as a department, redefining a department and using the small business model can bring both value and growth.

Overview on business research and management

According to recent management paradigms, modern management practices dissent. They are dynamic and draw their frameworks from morality. Modern management theory is believed to be constrained by a fractured philosophical theory of knowledge. This epistemology separates humanity from nature and morality. Business research is essential for an organization to realize markets and growth. Research methods differ significantly and each benefits an organization differently.

Proper business research can identify untapped markets and even establish the strengths and weaknesses of emerging markets. This is a vital ingredient of growth. An organization is able to invest in the new markets and effectively expand their operations. Unfortunately, the markets have been there and business research has succeeded in identifying them, it is the management approach to venture that is the truly profound. It is important that management of organizations be centralized.

This will facilitate success in areas of planning, strategy execution and employee productivity. Using the small business model to manage the organization is a formula of initiating competitiveness in all departments of an organization. Here, managers of various departments in an organization are able to increase the productivity of their departments (Strategic Corporate Social Responsibility). This prompts competition in the organization. This competition can power the organization into a very profitable enterprise. This brings the context of importance of business research and management.

Importance of Business Research and Management

Business research is credited for providing an organization with information about potential markets and how they can be tapped. Organizations that have consistently invested in business research have reaped and managed to increase their market share significantly. Companies with a distinctive approach to business research have been able to identify markets and turned these markets to powerful sources of revenue.

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Recent surveys show that, corporations are rethinking their strategy by investing in poor markets. Business research has helped these organizations realize that, even the poorest can become a thriving market. Corporations can empower the power to make them able to purchase and this is what business research is about; how can markets, regardless of their economy or geography be turned into thriving markets?

Organization Framework

The small business model has been labeled as an ideal approach to organization growth. Companies can use the model to thrive in poor economies. The small business management frame can favor any corporation. The framework allows the organization to defragment, allowing all its departments to thrive independently while benefiting one unit that is ‘the small businesses.

Organizations can only be viewed from three perspectives; management characteristics, business process environment, and organization configuration. These tree aspects are the framework of any organization. Unfortunately, many scholars have viewed small businesses as the only ones to have such a framework. Literature on small business has increased in the recent past though none discusses the context of organization framework comprehensively.

The small business framework can be integrated as a structure that managers can use to elevate their organizations and increase the productivity of their employees. The context of small business management theories in the literature also is raised since little or almost no theories have been developed yet (Ruyter & Norbert, 1998). The definition of a small business pins the small business as business with an annual turnover of $20 million and employs below 500 people. The process of management can be imperatively intricate depending on what is the business of the organization (Kenneth, 2000). However, the success of these small businesses and the gradual fall of conglomerates and household names has become worth to note. Borrowing this model and assimilating it to the structure of the big company can be rosy but very effective.

Before introducing a new product or service to the market, it is important for the organization to carry out extensive market research in order to determine the viability of the project. This helps determine whether this new product will generate expected profits. Market research is a plan. This plan charts data collection methods and analysis. The aim is to make sure that the results are useful and relevant in marketing decisions. Management and the human resource department are provided with the research and the related analysis.

This provides management with detailed information that should be acted. This information highlights facts about key business weather and environment factors. These factors have a direct impact on the target market and the existing marketing mix. Market research allows the organizations managements to adapt to the best strategies that will ensure the growth and profitability of the company.

Research Methodologies

Market research management can be conducted using the following data collection methods:

  • Qualitative methods
  • Quantitative methods

Qualitative Method

This method is the technique used to find out about the human behavior and the reason for governing that behavior. It does not evaluate; it provides impending foresights for what may happen in the future (Ko de and Norbert, 1998). It normally adopts an inductive process and subscribe to the relativist paradigm of science (Kenneth, 2000). This normally deals with decision-making. In this manner, smaller and targeted sample are required to analyze.

Qualitative method of data research is a non-numerical process. Observation, field notes, reflexive journals, structured interview, unstructured interview, analysis of documents and materials are some of the methods used in the qualitative method. Using qualitative as a way of data collection, specific consumer population should be targeted in order to obtain maximum result.

Quantitative Method

This is a numerical method of research collection and in most cases statistics and figures are given, tables and graphs are also included in the results for easy understanding and explanation. It normally adopts a deductive process and subscribe to the positivist prototype of science (Kenneth, 2000). It is generally comprise of models, theories, hypothesis, and collection of empirical data, modeling, and analysis of data.

Many companies and organizations that have adapted to various business research and management methods and they have proved to be a success. This paper is going to focus on a company that has the highest number of retail stores around the world – The Wal-Mart Group of Companies.

Case Study – The Wal-Mart Group

Genesis of the Wal-Mart Group

The Wal-Mart Group of Companies was founded in 1962 by Sam Walton, since then the Company has curved an inch for itself as being the leader in running and management of the retail stores around the world. Sam Walton like any entrepreneur did not aim at making the company to be among the largest chain of retail stores in the world, he just wanted it to the best performing. Due to excellent marketing skills of the company and its good rapport between with the customers, it however managed to perform better than its competitors hence its rapid growth.

The Wal-Mart Group of companies employs thousands of people and operates hundred of stores around the world, the company’s major departments in most stores are: apparel / jewelry, baby stores, electronic shops, pharmacy, grocery stores, health and beauty services, furniture etc.

There are different business research and management methods that the company has adapted to that has made it thrives in this sector, this methods are either categorizes are internal or external factors. To understand this better, let us look at the following elements and the way in which they have helped in the development of the company; internal behavior of the organization as well as the behavior of its staff. This will address how this behavior affects consumers. the external factors (consumers / suppliers / distributors) and how this has affected the functions and operations of the company, the consumer decision making process and the five steps involved in the process will also be looked at., the growth in the internet communication technology has changed the way businesses are conducted. This will also be discussed as a major factor.

Wal-Mart’s Internal Behavior and influence on Consumer Choice

A good marketing strategy by an organization can determine the number of clients it attracts. According to OPPapers (2010), the company’s philosophy, values, mission, goals, and objectives are other important elements that determine the future of the organization. The Wal-Mart group of companies is marketed by its motto “Save money, Live better” (Wal-Mart, 2010). The organizations behavior of the Wal-Mart group is the main reason the company has managed to remain relevant in the business world for many years. Some of the organization behavior that can be observed at the all the company outlets include; communication, teamwork, the decision-making process, advertising, pricing among others OPPapers (2010).

Communication process

The communication aspect of the company has adapted to a “two way traffic” model. This is where the channel of communication is free among all the employee of the organization. This has further been boosted by the democratic leadership style, which was introduced by the founder of the companies, the late Sam Walton. The communication process has made the decision making process an easy task.

Teamwork

The efforts of each employee in an organization can either build or destroy the reputation of the company. The staffs at all the Wal-Mart outlets work in unity and display high degree of discipline and cleanliness. This has on many occasions contributed to the influx of clients at its outlets.

Pricing

When it comes to pricing as an organization behavior, the Wal-Mart has proved to be the leader. Most prices of its goods and services are lower as compared to its competitors and this has put the company on the spot. The company has been able to motivate and attract clients by offering the lowest prices and the widest range of quality products. For instance, it hopes to account for 50% of household goods sold in the U.S by the end 2010. Its prices are 14% lower than other stores offering the same products (Werther & Chandler 2006, p.84). Bearing in mind the lifestyles of its shoppers it is a retailer that predominantly focused on rural areas that retail chains like K-Mart and Sears ignored, bringing value to the consumers living there.

Advertising

Advertising of the company’s new products and services reminds clients / consumers of the existence of the company. The Wal-Mart runs electronic, print media and billboard adverts in the US and the whole of Europe on a daily basis. Its advertising is described as a cottage industry (Brunn 2006 p.173). The company spends $2million a day on television advertising knowing that its customers are not ardent readers (Brunn 2006 p.173). The company is also able to evoke the emotions of its shoppers. For instance, it sells Fair Trade coffee, is involved with Mercy Corps efforts to help farmers in Guatemala, and holds the position of the largest employer in America.

Wal-Mart’s External Behavior and influence on Consumer Choice

The external behavior of the company directly determines the response it gets from its clients. As a company that has been in existence for more than 50 years, the Wal-Mart Company has been able to compete fairly for its clients.

Competition / Rivalry: The competition among the different players in the retail industry has been on a steady increase however, the Wal-Mart Company has been able to remain afloat because of its numerous outlets that are easily accessible. The company boosts of 2373 discount stores, 1104 supercenters and more than 1000 international outlets (Wal-Mart, 2010). This has enabled it weather off its competitors are retain its position as the “consumers choice.”

Pricing: Compared to its main competitor the Kmart Corporation, the prices of its products and services are relatively cheaper. The reason for this is its target group of clients – the rural people. With this, the company has continued to register good profits and it is among the leading revenue generation company in the US.

Other external factors that have made the company continue to grow is that the company has endorsement with players in different fields and industry (sports and sports personalities, food and beverages, healthcare among others). These factors have positively contributed to the growth and expansion of the company in different regions.

Consumer Decision-Making

When it comes to the consumer, the decision making process on where and what to purchase can be a complicated thing if not well planned for. The process of decision making by most Wal-Mart consumers covers five (5) different stages:

  1. Need Recognition: Matsuno (1997) has observed that before a consumer makes a purchase he / she first identify the “need” or purpose of the goods / services. After that, the client / consumer will go to the next step.
  2. Search for Information: The consumer(s) will then go ahead and search for the relevant information about the need / goods or services that they wish to have.
  3. Evaluation of Awareness: At this stage, the consumer will go in detail to analyze the product or service that they would have identified. This will be based on the quality, price, brand, expiry date, easy availability among others.
  4. Choice: A product that meets all or most of the above stated specifications is the one that will be given top priority by the consumer (Matsuno, 1997)
  5. Post choice evaluation: This stage comes after the consumer has purchased the product. It covers the following segments, purchase, product use, disposition, simple evaluation, and finally repeat purchase motivation. If the consumers’ needs were satisfactorily solved, then he / she will visit the same store again for another purchase.

Figure 1 below shows a simple post choice evaluation process (Matsuno, 1997).

Post Choice Evaluation Process.
Fig 1: Post Choice Evaluation Process.

The Impact of Internet Communication Technology on the Future of Wal-Mart Company

The growth and development of the internet communication technology has revolutionized the way business is conducted. The introduction of social site like tweeter and facebook has made marketing and advertising of the company’s products and services easier. The Wal-Mart Company stands to benefit in a great way from this new technological innovations.

As an international brand, Wal-Mart consumers will be able to access easily its products and services from any location in the world. This is a good sign for the company since it stands a great chance of increasing its client base and market growth. The future of the company lies in how effective its management will make good use of the internet as a marketing and advertising strategy.

Can Wal-Mart’s corporate success become a business research and management model?

The survey on Wal-Mart’s successful business research and management practices draws out a picture of how organizations can adopt this approach into their system and succeed. This dissertation sought to identify how small business models can be adopted into organizations and can develop into departments that function. Wal-Ma was not a conglomerate initially, but a small enterprise. Proper management, good strategy execution, and business research successfully helped develop the organization into a very successful; franchise. Can these principles of business research and management be implemented in organizations?

Integrating models in a business process structure is possible. Research shows that, development of strategies and their execution is possible if the management policy is effective and that the management characteristics are inductive. An organization can combine research methods and achieve results. In this dissertation, the context of combining research methods, more specifically, qualitative and quantitative is very powerful. Data collection methods are also important. Using them to analyze the markets is viewed as pivotal in combining the management strategy and marketing strategy (The Indological Knowledgebase).

Debates on management and strategy execution blame poor management on retardation of organizations. Remodeling organization structure especially in departmental levels can shape the future of an organization. The Wal-Mart model shows how departments can be dissected and allowed to function independently. This can be initiated through the adoption of a typical small enterprise model as the new structure of the dissected organization. Each department should function as a small business. This new structure minimizes the management chain and allows easy execution of strategy rather than using the long management echelon typical of corporations.

Legitimizing management as a profession has been a hindrance in strategy execution. Top-level managers are blamed for delays in strategy execution. Junior officers and managers in strategy executions and implementation of policies blame them for frustrating efforts. Dictatorial regimes in corporations have stifled business research and management processes making the purpose of these processes to have no value to such organizations. Bad management theories have explained the context of bad boss syndrome that often negatively affects junior level management and employees. This scenario draws out the picture of how employees are frustrated and demoralized by these regimes.

The etching out of management echelons from strategy execution can be achieved successfully if remodeling departmental management can be effected from the small business model. The conduct of business and management of the organization can be positive and significant based on such an approach. The influence of top management would be less on the bottom. The role of senior managers would be left as managing the process of implementation, market research, and capitalization while departmental managers would certainly have space to execute the company business strategy more effectively.

Scholarly debates about how management has failed to prompt consistent growth due to management characteristics explain how the role of managers can be reduced to allow employees and junior management execs to excel in their roles. The objective of this dissertation was to identify a solution that can inspire such a scenario. By capping the stressed manager role, management can be reduced to mere overseeing of strategy execution and the business process (The Indological Knowledgebase). The execution and implementation of the strategy and other related responsibilities are left to junior managers (Bennet).

If this corporate structure can work, how would the organization adopt it? This brings to focus, the context of organization culture and organization change. The impact this change would have on its system would be variable. Some heads of departments are rather used on receiving orders than making decisions themselves. This change can have an amoral effect where the departmental manager is unable to make decisions or even executing strategy as hoped. On the other hand, most of the top-level executives nowadays are well informed about their role. If such an exec were holding a position such as departmental manager, his input in management and strategy would be very influential and certainly influence and shape the future of his department.

Locking top-level managers from managing employees has been effective in increasing employee productivity and confidence. Bad bosses are blamed for loss of good manpower and even the exit of effective junior managers who find their way to top management positions in other companies where they excel and take their new companies to new heights of corporate success. Successful managers are credited with growth and profitability of their organizations. However, management is pegged on morality; it is the objective of the manager that can bring conflict in the management process (Hassan et al 1992).

Many employees complain how managers are always asking employees to do the impossible. Many managers are accused of intimidating employees and forcing them out of they do not meet their demands. Managers are also blamed for failures especially where policy and administration are concerned. Many employees have quit their jobs simply because they could not stand a manager. Nipping these powers of a manager can improve managerial roles and allow managers to be effective and role models for employees.

Using the models mentioned and the framework suggested achieving change is possible. Managers often worry about change since they are used on a streamlined management policy and change forces them to realize the sharp distinctiveness between the change process and the changes themselves. The need for managerial changes today is because of needs in business regulations, audit guidelines, and developments in the organizations knowledge of resource mobilization and use.

The changes recommended throughout this paper can be adopted in any kind of organization. This includes a typical business today or a conglomerate. Adoption of technology and new management practices are also very important in changing and shaping the future of an organization (Hassan et al 1992).

Summary

The suggested framework and Wal-Mart model of business growth can influence corporation’s future growth significantly. The capabilities of a good business research and management framework are immense. In fact, the dynamic capabilities of a framework initiate wealth creation and consolidation. This empowers and gives a market the potential to purchase. Such development helps a corporation gain a distinct competitive advantage. This is seen through the combining and coordination of business research and management (Herman 1996).

The role of management should be identifying opportunities and organizing the business process effectively and efficiently. Adopting of these concepts is fundamental in growth of the organization and its business strategy (Hassan et al 1992). Objectively, managers should engage in business a process that keeps their competitors down and always-raising rivals cost while keeping new entrants away.

It is also important to note the following: Unskilled Implementers: Having unqualified personnel for the job can “shame” the organization in the public and on the international platform. The organization should therefore take upon itself to ensure that the staff and personnel hired for the job meet the required standards for the task.

Poor Implementation: Poor implementation can be characterised by lack of coordination between the players in the sector. In most cases, there is usually communication break down when it comes to communication and if not well planned the process can fail.

References

Bennett. P, (Ed) Dictionary of Marketing Terms, 2nd Ed. Chicago.

Brunn, S.D. (2006). Wal-Mart world: one of the world’s biggest corporation globaly. New York: CRC Press.

Hassan et al, (1992) “Identification of Global Consumer Markets: A Behavioral Framework.” Journal of International Consumer Marketing. 3 No. 2.

Herman. S. (1996). Hidden Champions: Lessons from 500 of the World’s Best Unknown Companies Boston. Harvard Business School Press.

Ko de Ruyter and Norbert, S. (1998), Positioning Qualitative Market Research: Reflections from Theory and Practice, Qualitative Market Research: An International Journal Volume 1.

Kenneth F.H (2000), Recognizing Deductive Processes in Qualitative Research, Qualitative Market Research: An International Journal, Volume 3.

Matsuno (2007) Note on Consumer Decision Making Processes, Consumers as Problem Solvers, Babson College Journal, 1 – 8.

OPPapers (2010), Organizational Behavior, Wal-Mart. Web.

The Indological Knowledgebase “Disciminate Analysis in Marketing”. Web.

Wal-Mart, (2010), Connect with other Wal-Mart Customers. Web.

Werther, W.B. and Chandler, D. (2006). Strategic Corporate Social Responsibility: Stakeholders in a Global Environment. Thousand Oaks [u.a.]: SAGE.

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