It was only last October that Wal-Mart CEO Lee Scott announced that the company was committing itself to social and environmental sustainability, but the first analyses are already appearing. Sustainability and Systems Change – Wal-Mart’s Pioneering Strategy by Frank Dixon, just published on CSRwire is an interesting example. Dixon suggests that Wal-Mart’s long term success in terms of profitability and sustainability will depend on its ability to push “system change” within the economic, political and social systems that mandate the how business operates. Although perhaps a little overly generous re corporate intentions (Dixon is an advisor to Wal-Mart on sustainability issues), the paper rightly notes that Wal-Mart, given its market power, is one of the few firms capable of forcing broader change.
Also see a previous post of Pablo's on the possible impact of Wal-Mart.