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Critical Theory: WalMart

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Bianca Agnes

on 10 March 2011

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Transcript of Critical Theory: WalMart

Critical Theory: WalMart “Critical organization theory reveals the hidden but pervasive power that organizations have over individuals and over our society. It questions the assumed superiority of market capitalism and its organization structures, norms, and practices.”

Organizational Communication, pg136 Why Wal-Mart? Nationally known
Widely Criticized History of Wal-Mart

- Founded by Sam Walton in 1962
- First store in Rogers, Arkansas
- 1970-1980 sales & number of stores increased
- Sam Walton died in 1992
- 1998 stores found on 4 continents & in 9 countries
- Walton wanted low prices, longer hours
& valued employees POWER & CONTROL Anti-union Force manufacturers to lower prices
- More efficient manufacturing sometimes leads to layoffs Force competitors to lower their prices
- When smaller stores can no longer compete,
they have to close down Use factories abroad
- Even lower wages LOW WAGES Workers in Chinese factories make 25c/hour
The average American WM employee makes $10.11/hour
Employees are forced to work off the clock
Discrimination against women "Wal-Mart counts on fear to keep its employees in place. There are a lot of ways Wal-Mart breaks the law. I'm part of a class action lawsuit Dukes vs. Wal-Mart Stores, Inc. This is the largest class action lawsuit in our nation's history with 1.6 million who've been victims of wage discrimination."
- former Wal-Mart employee
Sandra Carpenter Kyle Strock Employee Interview "As an employee, it is alright, they took advantage of you often.
They ask me to do things outside of my job description. I always
have to go help others in their departments, and work on the
register even though I was never trained on the register." "Besides what I said earlier, they would take away workers'
breaks. Say I was eating my lunch and we were low on carts,
they would come in and say 'Kyle, we need carts now' even
after I told them I was on break." Hidden Power of Knowledge

Surveillance & the Panopticon
According to Foucault, surveillance, or constant supervision, is a cetnral feature of current modes of power
Surveillance (camera) is supposed to keep customers from stealing
Managerial supervision is there to ensure that employees know what they are doing and that they are doing it correctly Michelle Employee Interview "I have been working at Wal-Mart for 3 months. We (co-workers and I) are pretty self-supervised. The managers don't come to our section and bother us. When I first started working there, the manager just put me in the dairy section and told me that if I need help, ask a co-worker. So sometimes we do slack off. Like when we are supposed to be breaking down crates, we just sit on them and chat for like 20 minutes." Hidden Power of Knowledge Examples

Pennsylvania lawsuit against inappropriate surveillance of employees in Wal-Mart (2009)

Former Wal-Mart employee confesses to intercepting calls and spying MYTHS, STORIES & METAPHORS Myths contribute to the strength of a culture's
ideology and its sources of power. MYTH #1:
Wal-Mart provides more jobs for the community MYTH #2:
Wal-Mart brings in more revenue for the community MYTH #3:
Wal-Mart cares about its employees WAL-MART TODAY
Since all of the bad press that Wal-Mart has been receiving for the past several years, they have been on the road to redemption in America's eyes
Changing its image
Providing more health insurance for employees
Sex-discrimination lawsuit ten years in the making
Wages still relatively low COMPETITION In the beginning, low prices couldn't be beat
by other discount retailers Today, Wal-Mart faces competition from big stores
like K-Mart & Target (decreased prices and expanded
grocery sections) and by smaller chain stores like
Family Dollar LA RESISTANCE Customers - No (shoppers will shop)
Employees - Not so much
Wal-Mart - Yes LA RESISTANCE $27.6 million settlement LA RESISTANCE What could this money have been used for besides a violation fine? Full time hours
Overseas ANY
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