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Opinion

Here's Why Walmart Stumbled on The Road to China

By Robert Salomon

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Walmart’s ongoing troubles in China, since opening its first superstore in Shenzhen in 1996, reflect a fundamental misunderstanding of China’s political, economic, and cultural environments.

A new book explains the retail giant’s missteps.

Managers tend to speak optimistically about the prospects of globalization, and for good reason. Globalization has fostered an increasingly interconnected world, with more than $30 trillion in goods and services traded and more than $1 trillion in corporate investment each year. Advances in information technology and transportation have helped facilitate globalization—connecting developed and developing worlds, lifting some 400 million people out of poverty along the way.

Nations are now inextricably linked through global trade and investment. There is no turning back. Accordingly, managers often view globalization as a powerful and inevitable force, and they tend to treat it with reverence—speaking of it as if it were a breakthrough technology, the wave of the future that will change the world, if not their companies’ fortunes. And they tend to think of themselves as the champions of globalization, akin to explorers embarking on a mission to discover and conquer far-off, unexplored lands.

Managers express their optimism for globalization in terms of the profitability it can generate for their companies. They salivate at the potential for double-digit sales growth. They are seduced by opportunities that promise to slash costs by half or more, simply by shifting operations overseas. And they lead their companies on journeys to global markets in search of untapped and untold riches.

See the full article is published in Fortune.

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Robert Salomon is an Associate Professor of Management and Organizations.