R OLE OF L EADERSHIP Observers credit the rapid progress made by WMT in

R ole of l eadership observers credit the rapid

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R OLE OF L EADERSHIP Observers credit the rapid progress made by WMT in achieving its green goals to the company’s excellence in strategy execution and the commitment provided by the top management. ‘Lee Scott has made it clear that working on sustainability projects can accelerate careers within Wal-Mart. Compensation schemes are being adjusted to provide substantial incentives for improving sustainability performance’, says Dixon. Was it the lure of savings that accelerated the environmental initiatives at WMT? Scott said that it was a combination of personal and business imperatives that generated an interest in sustainability factors. ‘On a personal level, as you become a grandparent— I have a granddaughter—you just also become more thoughtful about what the world that she inherits looks like’, said Scott. 22 The size of WMT enabled the creation of technologies that did not have established markets. Scott took personal interest in communicating with his peers, 20 Wal-Mart Sets Goal to Reduce its Global Plastic Shopping Bag Waste by One-Third , Press Release from Wal- Mart, 25 September 2008. 21 Environmental Defense Fund, which partnered with Wal-Mart in evolving its plastic bag reduction strategy, is a US based non profit environmental advocacy group. 22 Amanda Griscom Little, Don’t Discount Him, , 12 April 2006 (Accessed on 4 November 2009). at Alliant International University on March 10, 2010 Downloaded from
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128 R. N ANDAGOPAL AND A JITH S ANKAR R.N. A SIAN J OURNAL OF M ANAGEMENT C ASES , 6(2), 2009: 119–133 So I’m always asking, how do I work with people, whether it be Jeff Immelt at General Electric or John Browne at BP, to use our scale to help propel an industry so that the production of that tech[nology] or product is now affordable for other people? I ask, what happens to the solar panel market if Wal-Mart makes a large commitment to solar panels? 23 What happens to the cost of compact fluorescent light bulbs or green building materials? 24 In the January 2008 annual kick off meeting speech to more than 7,000 managers, Lee Scott prodded, ‘What if we extended our mission of saving people money so they can live better—to saving people money on energy?’ 25 During this speech, Scott announced a company wide goal to make the most energy-intensive products sold in WMT stores 25 per cent more energy efficient. ‘Flat screen TVs will be 30 per cent more efficient by 2010’, said Hank Mullany, Head of the Eastern Division. 26 When Duke took over the Chief Executive position, he added momentum to the sus- tainability initiatives, despite the downturn in the economy. These difficult economic times have led to an obvious question that a number of people have asked me: ‘Can Wal-Mart afford to continue to be so aggressive in sustainability?’ My response has been very clear and direct: ‘We can’t afford not to. We need to acce- lerate and broaden our efforts’, [s]aid Duke in the 2009 Global Sustainability Report of WMT.
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