Carr’s Sixth Force: Public Interest (Are you listening, Wal-Mart?)

Since we’ve been talking about Wal-Mart this week, I figured we should look at the big picture. Nicholas Carr’s article on the 6th force (take that, Michael Porter!) is a good start:
“What’s the greatest strategic challenge facing Wal-Mart today? It’s not competition from other retailers. Although the world’s biggest merchant certainly keeps a close eye on rivals like Target and Best Buy, its domination of the industry seems secure for the time being. It’s not pressure from suppliers. Wal-Mart has most makers of consumer packaged goods at its beck and call. And it isn’t the whims of buyers. Shoppers show little desire to abandon their favorite store and its dirt-cheap prices.
No, Wal-Mart’s biggest worry today is the public interest.”
Great insight:
“As the experiences of Wal-Mart and other companies reveal, this traditional approach ignores the changing nature of the public interest and its expanding influence over companies’ financial results. The public does not want a company’s charity. It wants a chunk of its profits. The public interest, in other words, now expresses itself as an economic interest — the public has become an active competitor in the struggle to seize the bounties of the marketplace. As a result, the way businesses think about strategy needs to change. If a company clings to the old assumptions, it may be putting its future at risk.”
I don’t think the public wants “a chunk of its profits” tho; I think the public wants businesses to be fair- fair to the community and country it is in. Think economic justice. Not just social justice.
Read Carr’s essay >>
PS – Does your company have an active ecoimagination?

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