Journal Article

Barriers to ‘US style’ lean retailing: the case of Wal-Mart's failure in Germany

Susan Christopherson

in Journal of Economic Geography

Volume 7, issue 4, pages 451-469
Published in print July 2007 | ISSN: 1468-2702
Published online May 2007 | e-ISSN: 1468-2710 | DOI: https://dx.doi.org/10.1093/jeg/lbm010
Barriers to ‘US style’ lean retailing: the case of Wal-Mart's failure in Germany

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Wal-Mart's exit from the German market in 2006 after 10 years of attempting to achieve sustainable competitive advantage contributes an interesting case to the small but expanding literature on ‘failure’ in international investment. The work on the disinvest decision in all its forms has been critical to a re-conceptualization of the international investment process as dynamic rather than static, linear and inexorable. An important segment of the work on investment and disinvestment as dynamic processes focuses on the environment in which investment and disinvestment decisions evolve. While the environment of the host country market has begun to be examined, the market environment of the country in which the retail transnational corporation (TNC) originates also affects the international disinvestment process. To explore this ‘home country effect’, I examine the resources Wal-Mart brought into the German market and their ability to use those resources in the German context. Wal-Mart's resources were shaped by the market governance regime in which the firm evolved, and not insignificantly, over which it had and has influence. Within this theoretical frame, Wal-Mart's reliance on the resources of network dominance and autonomous action that made for its success in the USA contributed to unsuccessful strategies in the German retailing market.

Keywords: lean retailing; Wal-Mart; Germany; corporate governance; globalization; D8; F23; L5; L81; P48

Journal Article.  9273 words. 

Subjects: Information, Knowledge, and Uncertainy ; Other Economic Systems ; International Factor Movements and International Business ; Regulation and Industrial Policy ; Services

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