Friday, May 6, 2011

Featured Movie - WalMart: The High Cost of Low Price

WalMart: The High Cost of Low Price is a documentary that is not without an agenda.  Clearly the producers have set out to paint WalMart as an unethical behemoth of unbridled capitalism.  Although the evidence is principally anecdotal, the stories are evocative and persuasive. The movie provides students with an effective tool for examining ethical practice in business and the limits of government regulation and civil liability controls on conduct in the legal environment. It's pedagogical value is enhanced by the fact that the movie is available to be viewed on line for free. Reviews are available here.

I have been able to create an interesting assignment by having students view a second movie, Why WalMart Works and Why That Makes Some People C-R-A-Z-Y. This is the "WalMart is good" counterpoint to the High Cost movie.  There are some great scenes in here that challenge students basic understandings of business, capitalism, ethics and law, and the legal landscape upon which business operates. In one scene, an industry analyst confirms that WalMart has a fiducairy duty to maximize return on income. In another, an expert matter-of-factly points out that "there are winners and there are losers." In another scene, a teenager is heard to opine that if he worked at WalMart, he might be able to earn "thousands of dollars."  The one drawback is that this movie is not as readily available for viewing.

WalMart commercial - "Save Money, Live Better":

Anti-WalMart Commercial:

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