Research and Development at Wal-Mart

An examination of the importance of research and development in maintaining Wal-Mart’s competitive edge.

This paper explains how, in order to maintain the international rate of success Wal-Mart has created for itself, the company must be bold, aggressive, and on the forefront of all technology. It shows how the area of research and development is a key function within Wal-Mart for the opportunities it creates for the company?s future.
For a firm such as Wal-Mart, research and development is not only a function which needs to maintain a competitive level with the rest of the industry, but it must surpass the rest of the competition. Wal-Mart, therefore, invests a large amount of money to research and development. While the company spreads the funding across the organization’s different functions, a large portion of this amount is spent on technology. Among the initiatives taken in this domain are the installation of Lindows on computers from Wal-Mart, the internal product development in the area of apparel, domestics, and electronics, and the acquisition of a global procurement arrangement (Lagenberg, 2002; Wal-Mart 2003 Annual Report). Respectively, these three developments are small to larger in nature, from the cost-reduction strategy of a single product item to the acquisition of a global network for manufacturing. Each of these has an implication for technology and the future of the organization.