Multinational Corporations and Cultural Barriers
Wal-Mart, a multinational corporation, is familiar to most Americans since 90% of them shop there each year. What the shopper probably knows about Wal-Mart is that's where prices are about as low as they get, so one can find a good deal on a wide selection of products. One also probably knows that there are a lot of Wal-Marts around. Fewer people, perhaps, are aware that Wal-Mart is facing huge problems on multiple fronts due to the cultural barriers it presents, if it ever intends to expand its overseas operations. These problems include how it manages its human resources, in particular its female employees. Currently there are one million women trying to form a class action suit against this corporation. The Supreme Court of the U.S. has only now become involved in this. The result is not yet in. The case involves sexual discrimination and whether this huge giant of a corporation is allowed to discriminate against women. This cultural diversity issue is very important to other developing countries, which would want to invest in this company, but with reservations about the one hundred million women filing a lawsuit. This is important because Wal-Mart is the world's largest private employer. Bolman and Deal report, in Reframing Organizations: Artistry, Choice, and Leadership, that
For all its power and influence, Wal-Mart has struggled in recent years with a budding assortment of critics and image problems. The company has been accused of abusing workers, discriminating against women, busting unions, destroying small businesses, and damaging the environment. Circled by enemies, it has mounted major public relations campaigns in defense of its image, with limited success" (p.229).
Wal-Mart's corporate culture sounds dreadful, and what one learns from Bolman and Deal is that its whole culture is what is reflected in its image, the picture that comes to m...