Book: The Wal-Mart Effect: How the World’s Most Powerful Company Really Works and How It’s Transforming the American Economy
Author: Charles Fishman
Price: $15

In The Wal-Mart Effect, author Charles Fishman, editor of Fast Company magazine, looks at how Wal-Mart has changed the supply chain, as well as consumers’ shopping patterns and their idea of what is the “right price” and what constitutes a good deal. The pages are filled with illustrative examples of Wal-Mart’s squeeze on suppliers as well as the daring few who’ve said “no” to the conglomerate yet find they  have to play by its rules as they’ve spread throughout today’s marketplace.

“Wal-Mart is not just a store, or a company, or a powerful institution,” Fishman says. “It is also a mirror. Wal-Mart is quintessentially American. It mirrors our own energy, our sense of destiny, our appetite for bigness and variety and innovation.”

The book is a probing and chilling portrayal of the step-by-step methods that Wal-Mart uses to drive costs out of the products it sells.

It looks at the Wal-Mart effect as neither negative nor positive, but rather that it depends on your perspective and that you often need to assume two perspectives. For example, Fishman breaks down the company’s profit on a per-employee basis, then points out that wages can’t increase without also raising the low prices Americans crave.

In the end, this book presents a balanced, insightful look at the Wal-Mart effect. Fans and detractors alike will find it to be a useful resource, offering solid perspectives.