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The Wal-Mart Effect: How the World's Most Powerful Company Really Works - and How It's Transforming the American Economy
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The Wal-Mart Effect: How the World's Most Powerful Company Really Works - and How It's Transforming the American Economy

3.81 of 5 stars 3.81  ·  rating details  ·  2,119 ratings  ·  329 reviews
Wal-Mart isn’t just the world’s biggest company, it is probably the world’s most written-about. But no book until this one has managed to penetrate its wall of silence or go beyond the usual polemics to analyze its actual effects on its customers, workers, and suppliers. Drawing on unprecedented interviews with former Wal-Mart executives and a wealth of staggering data (e....more
Paperback, 352 pages
Published December 26th 2006 by Penguin Books (first published January 1st 2006)
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Pige
Mar 14, 2008 Pige rated it 5 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: anyone who buys stuff
Having a family in the grocery business (and being a product of one of the most economically distraught states in the country-Michigan) of course likely aroused my interest in this book more than most. But, as the book so thoughtfully and throughly puts forward, Wal-Mart truly affects us all, whether we shop there or not. Now don't think that this book was simply one big stoning fest at Wal-Mart, it's not. The author covers the positive and the negative of this the largest company in the country...more
Stephen
The Wal-Mart Effect: How the World's Most Powerful Company Really Works, and How It's Transforming the American Economy
© 2006 Charles Fishman
352 pages

In only a little over fifty years, Wal-Mart has grown from a small five-and-dime store in rural Arkansas to an outright goliath, dominating the American, and increasingly, the global economy to an unprecedented degree. In The Wal-Mart Effect, Charles Fishman examines the secret of the corporation’s success, and explores how that success has altered...more
Ryan
So I only got to disc 3 (of 6) before I gave up. There's just only so much hating of Wal*Mart that I can do in one week.

Actually, this book did help me see that Wal*Mart is not entirely evil. Suppliers don't necessarily like them b/c Sam Walton effectively stole the pants in the relationship. However, Wal*Mart's history is riddled with several examples of what happens to ethics when low prices become the ultimate goal: breaking the law. From sexual discrimination to large-scale employment of ill...more
Thomas Umstattd
I feel like I know so much more about Wal-Mart now. This book goes out of its way to show both sides of the Wal-Mart story. But those sides tend to be Pro Wal-Mart city people and Anti Wal-Mart city people. The author describes Wal-Mart as a terrible shopping experience and the kind of place you only go to when you need to buy a product. This is very true if you live in a city with a lot to do. Not true in a small town.

I had the experience of living in a small town when a Super Wal-Mart moved i...more
james
Oct 25, 2007 james rated it 4 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: consumers
Overall the book does a good job laying down the issues. It asks a lot of questions and tries to answer them. The writing is well organized, written in a way anyone can understand, and is very easy to read. All the sources are cited. Wal-Mart itself was of no help witing this book, and it is clear a lot of effort went into getting the interviews.

You're going to learn a lot about Wal-Mart reading this book. If you're in a hurry, much of the writing is anecdotal and you can skip over quite a bit....more
Susan
If you haven't read this and think you know what it says already, read it. The situation is a whole lot bigger and more to ponder than I realized. He does a wonderful job. He doesn't just slam Walmart. He really looks respectfully at the company in terms of its founder and its work ethic and its philosophy and business practices. And then he looks thoroughly and in detail at the real effects those business practices have when the company's reach changes from small Arkansas store to global mega-c...more
Christine
I found this throughly engaging. Loved reading it and I'm not much for non-fiction. It definitely is something to think about and I highly recommend it. Very accessible style of writing.
Rachel
As many of you know I am NOT a fan of Wal-Mart. I read this book to add fuel to my fire. As well as adding some logic behind my dislike of this megastore. My dislike of Wal-Mart came simply from trying to find a jar of sauerkraut. This was not the first time I couldn't find something in Wal-mart. But it ended up being the last time. As I was flung from employee to employee six times--I abandoned my shopping cart in the store and left. Rarely to return. I have not missed going to Wal-Mart. As a m...more
David
I didn't expect to enjoy this book, but I forged ahead and was surprised. This is a fascinating and eye-opening "look behind the scenes." In the early chapters, you find yourself cheering for "the largest corporation in the history of the world" as they manage to drive down prices and increase efficiency. But gradually the layers are peeled back to expose the impact of those innovations - both on the lives of employees, American producers, and overseas farms and factories. The bottom line is tha...more
Amy
Everyone should read this book: Wal-Mart lovers, enthusiasts, conflicted shoppers and haters. I picked up this book because I hate Wal-Mart; I despise their business practices, the way they destroy small businesses and confuse the economy by creating a screen of bargains for the people, when it's the people who are ultimately getting robbed, that profits earned at my local supercenter Wal-Mart do not, after sales tax, stay in my community but go back to Bentonville, Arkansas and into the pockets...more
Kkraemer
This is a great book! I thought it would simply be the liberal rant about big box retailers and how they destroy the very essence of American life. While the book most certainly includes that perspective, it shows a complex set of circumstances and possibilities that I'd never considered. It notes, for example, that at one point, Wal Mart wanted to be able to offer a wider range of deodorants, but their shelves were full. They needed either more space or smaller deodorants. It occurred to someon...more
Andy Oram
This is an important, deep, and subtle book, even though I know the facts have changed in the years since it was written. Fishman is critical of Wal-Mart overall--he believes regulation has to change to accommodate the accumulation of power by super-large companies such as Wal-Mart--but the book is not merely critical. If it were al critical, it could not address the crucial question of why so many people shop at Wal-Mart, an experience the author describes as frequently unpleasant. I thought th...more
Mark Tuminello
This was a fascinating look behind the scenes of the largest corporation in the world. Wal-Mart had some positive effects, lowering prices and increasing efficiency. Those innovations had an impact on the lives of employees, American manufacturing, and overseas farms and factories. When they lower prices, it's their decision, made with or without consent of producers. What happens when there isn't any lower you can go? Can we operate there for long?
Laura
Wal-Mart is a competitive culture that has gone unchecked.
The culture permits or encourages illegal practices.

For me the book makes the case that the negative practices outweigh the positive things Wal-Mart did. Also the positive practices seem to be in Wal-Mart's past.

Fishman describes it as neither good nor bad but a new practice that needs new policy.

The book describes how sprinklers are made. Last summer, I bought a sprinkler - and it broke on the third use. This summer I bought a sprink...more
Liz DeCoster
Evenhanded, informative, and clear even when describing complex economic relationships - Fishman does an excellent job of examining Wal-Mart from a number of angles and gives the reader space to draw their own conclusion(s). Obviously some of the information is dated, now, but other than the lack of discussion of ecommerce (aka, online shopping), the basics of his analysis still seem solid. I don't know that Fishman will persuade you to think other than you might already think going into the boo...more
Dallan Andrus
I felt like this was a very even-handed look at the way Wal-Mart has revolutionized retail in America. Some positive aspects, some negative aspects, but through it all I felt like I would have a hard time answering the question, "Does Charles Fishman like Wal-Mart?" Well done.
Joe
After an 18-year effort to keep Wal-Mart OUT of my community, it has now passed it's final hurdle(going before the State Supreme Court)and will be coming. I decided to educate myself about the company and read this book. I feel it is a fair portrayal, but I'll let anyone who reads it decide for themselves. A little about the author Charles Fishman: A Senior editor at "Fast Company". In 2005 he was awarded the prestigious Gerald Loeb Award, the highest award in business journalism, for which he w...more
Elizabeth Stout
I was surprised at how even handed this book treated Walmart. There are a lot of negatives associated with Walmart's business model but there are positives too that I wasn't aware of, including their influence on keeping inflation low and improving supply chains. Still not enough positives to change my mind about not shopping there though.
Stephonour
Would love to read an updated 2014 version.
Mayda
Though some of the information in this book is dated, having been published in 2006, it is nevertheless a fascinating and informative look at Wal-Mart, megastore extraordinaire. Wal-Mart affects not only people who work and shop at Wal-Mart but also nearly everyone else who gets caught up in its maelstrom. This book may not change your mind – or your shopping habits – about Wal-Mart, but at least you will be better equipped and able to justify your decision and your feelings about the world’s le...more
Justin Tapp
At first, I thought The Wal-Mart Effect: How the World's Most Powerful Company Really Works--and How It's Transforming the American Economy was going to be a puff piece on Wal-Mart, but that's not the case. You can see various reviews of the book on the book's website and see it's mostly been praised for its even-handedness. It's simply an attempt to get one's head around Wal-Mart's policies, particularly in regards to their supply chain, and their consequences. Fishman sees Wal-Mart as a "refle...more
Tom Olson
An easy and enjoyable read that covered a good spectrum of companies that were economically or environmentally impacted by Wal-Mart. Personally I thought the book reads best in the earlier chapters; around chapter 6 it reads a little more negatively than the earlier chapters which were more opinion-less. Still it offers a good breadth of perspectives on the company, and a lot of neat stories that offer readers some perspective of the huge business, and even some introspection on american consume...more
Scott Riley
Fishman gives a tirelessly researched and compellingly crafted expose on a close-lipped company that stays true to its sole core value ("Always lowest prices. Always.") no matter the cost.
Lindsey
It is hard to ignore the power that a company as huge as Walmart has and that is one if the things that this book covers in depth. I found the writing to be fairly balanced, showing both the good and bad, and learned many things that I never considered. The basic premise of the book is that all the good and bad things that Walmart does can be linked to one thing, they do exactly that they day that are going to do, "always the lowest prices, always." This read was well worth the time invested.
Jordan Lewis
A really fair take on Wal-Mart, and by extension all big business practices. Fishman quantifies the costs and benefits to both our wallets and our culture, and doesn't take one side for too long.
Miranda
Wow. I just finished this book. It really laid down some new ways to think -- not just about Wal-Mart, but about all mega corporations. Fishman writes well -- gave many case studies and all sides of the Wal-Mart effect. I loved the afterword. Great book!
Riley
I don't usually read books about economics, but this one was fascinating. It's a couple of years old now, but still gives a really interesting look at this american-made retail behemoth and what it says about the ones who created it....us!
Victor Chininin
This was a very balanced work on this subject. I wish there were an effort to update it to see how things have changed since 2006. But still, a great work to consider a number of things about our economy.
Kara
Read it whether you shop at Walmart or not....although, I am hoping you don't already. The book is a bit redundant, but the shorter, more personal stories in each chapter help the book along.
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As a reporter, Charles Fishman has tried to get inside organizations, both familiar and secret, and explain how they work.
In the course of reporting about water to write The Big Thirst, Fishman has stood at the bottom of a half-million-gallon sewage tank, sampled water directly from the springs in San Pellegrino, Italy, and Poland Spring, Maine, and carried water on his head for 3 km with a group...more
More about Charles Fishman...
The Big Thirst: The Marvels, Mysteries & Madness Shaping the New Era of Water Charles Fishman'sThe Big Thirst: The Secret Life and Turbulent Future of Water [Hardcover]2011 Has Wal-Mart Found Its Soul?: A New Introduction to the National Bestseller The Wal-Mart EffectA Penguin eSpecial As the Sun Goes Down in Fire To the End of Time

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