Walmart a Transnational Corporation
Globalization: Business and Society in the Information Age
The transnational corporation that will be examined in this paper is Wal-Mart - the largest corporation in the U.S. that is also a major transnational corporation (TNC). Since the 1990s, Wal-Mart has sought to transform the company into a global brand by expanding its operations all over the world, starting from the Americas to Asia (Featherstone, 2005; Rowell, 2003). More than just the largest retailer in the U.S., Wal-Mart's strategy of offering the lowest prices to customers, as encapsulated in its slogan -- "Low Prices. ...view middle of the document...
This phenomenon has enabled TNCs such as Wal-Mart to exert a cultural hegemony throughout the world.
Apart from its reliance on the mass media to transmit information about the company, the media text of Wal-Mart, through its sheer domination of local cultures and processes, has succeeded to reshape the values and the business culture of some of the host countries. According to Weiner (2003), the entry of Wal-Mart in Mexico has reshaped the local retail market as local stores adopt Wal-Mart's "cut-throat" tactics of lowering prices to under-cut competitors. Just as importantly, the consumers in Mexico have become seduced by the materialism and the consumerism of the American culture. With increased offerings of diversity, quality and low prices, the Mexican marketplace has begun to resemble its American counterpart. Thus, Wal-Mart, with its policy of globalization and imperialism, has literally become a medium for promoting American consumerism. As described by Galtung, the dominant elite occupying the center of the world in relationship to the peripheral states exerts its power through five types of imperialism: "economic, political, military, communication and cultural" (in Thussu, 2000, p. 65). TNCs such as Wal-Mart have certainly exerted their influence in all the aforementioned spheres, except for the military aspect.
Their growing influence can be attributed to the development of transportation and information technologies. These technologies have led to increased connectivity and time-space compression in which people from all over the world are able to communicate instantaneously with one another, regardless of time and space barriers. Even more importantly, this ease in communication has also led to the rise in global consciousness and reflexivity as people continuously process their practices and perspectives based on new input from the outside world. This facility in communication and interaction has thus provided the necessary support for the spread of Wal-Mart and its influences throughout the world (Monge, 1998).
It is important to point out that the media text of Wal-Mart has not been completely successful in effecting the globalization of Western culture. Even though it has been successful in transmitting and selling its messages in Mexico, it has met up with considerable problems and resistance in other countries. In Germany, Wal-Mart suffered financial losses as it encountered opposition from the regulatory offices that considered Wal-Mart's pricing policies to be illegal. At the same time, German Wal-Mart workers also went on strike to compel the company to recognize unions. Similarly, the Wal-Mart operation in South Korea also encountered many difficulties. A study of the Wal-Mart operations in the country revealed that the shoppers were not unhappy with the locations, the prices and the selection of merchandise. Another report indicated that Wal-Mart failed to take notice of the fact that South...