Managerial Accounting: Sam Walton


Amongst the many influential global companies that exist today; very few—if not none—of them can compare to the reputable impact of Wal-Mart in the arena of business. Whether for the right or occasionally, wrong reasons; Wal-Mart commands a lot of attention from corporations and people alike. All these would, however, have been non-existent had it not been for the ingenious accounting management strategies and principles employed by Sam Walton—Wal-Mart’s brainchild.

In brief, Walton, and Huey (1992, p.7-10) say that Wal-Mart’s debatably famed success story can be traced back to the humble beginnings of Sam Walton—a rather ordinary boy with extraordinary dreams and a ravenous passion for retailing. His diligence combined with his passion to learn (from his school, mentor, fellow workers, associates as well as his business associates) and his open-mindedness eventually paid off with the inception of the company in 1962 after several futile attempts (p.10-30). Even after the company’s establishment, Walton continued to revolutionize the company—just in the same way he did when overcoming his weaknesses while augmenting his strengths during his schooling days (p.4-10).

As of today, Wal-Mart stands tall as the largest grocers retailer globally with several branches spread all over the world to offer continuity to its parent branch in the U.S.A (Little, 2010). As of 2005, Wal-Mart was believed to have over 1.3 million employees with approximated revenue of over $285 billion (Neumark et al., 2005). Recent researches from a variety of scholarly quarters show that this number has, expectedly, skyrocketed with millions of workers having been increasingly employed and billions of yearly profits realized thereof.

Main Discussion

Despite this commendable success, macroeconomic critics have been breathing heavily down the necks of the company’s executives by lashing bouts of criticisms with regards to the company’s alleged questionable operations (Little 2010). Nonetheless, Wal-Mart—under the leadership of Walton—has been able to quell down these attacks and keep up the company’s success. So what is the secret behind this lauded success and what management accounting lessons can we learn from Sam Walton’s professional management of Wal-Mart?

Accordingly, the arena of business is a highly dynamic area that calls for the observance of many essentialities like customer satisfaction, risk management, gaining competitive advantage, and employee satisfaction while intermittently ensuring that the company achieves its desired targets such as making profits. As exhibited by Neumark et al. (2005), Walton has not only been able to deservingly defeat its competitors but has also managed to ensure that both workers and consumers get treated rightfully while the company accrues the desired profits. Of course, several issues such as gender disparity, long queues in its branches and relatively high-priced goods, are still being critiqued (Little). However, overall, the company’s good legacy is still imminent.

Another crucial accounting management tactic employed by Sam Watson is investing in good managers who are able to do their duties as required of them. Management, as described by Garrison et al. (2009, p.33-40), is the backbone of any given organization. Once good managers and supervisors are in place, chances of success are greatly improved. Wal-Mart’s management has been able to do so well to the point that Walton only comes in occasionally to oversee operations in the company and rubber-stamp his authority. All the other duties are taken care of by his proficient management. In 2009, for example, when most companies were still struggling with the effects of the 2008 crisis, Wal-Mart was, already up on its feet—courtesy of a series of good management decisions such as laying-off some workers or even reducing the production of its goods and services due to the limited circulation of funds.


Conclusively, it is remarkable to note that “Companies like Wal-Mart are not run by saints” and should therefore leaders like Sam Walton should not be subjected to excess criticism (Mallaby, 2005). Of course, Sam—just like many other managers—has had his share of shortcomings; and in some cases, his company’s policies have been a bit overstretched thus limiting positive contributions. However, the good he has done for his company should not be overlooked. For lasting accounting management to be put in place; positive contribution from all quarters (including the public, the government, the company and its associates among others) is duly required (Garrison et al., 2009, p.22-30). It is only by doing the above that the efforts of hard-working managers, like Sam Walton, can be truly fruitful.


Garrison, R. H., Noreen, E. W., & Brewer, P. C. (2009). Managerial accounting (13th Ed). New York: McGraw-Hill/Irwin.

Little, L. (2010). Mom bloggers question if Walmart lost its vision. Web.

Mallaby, S. (2005). Progressive Wal-Mart. Really? Web.

Neumark, D., Zhang, J., & Ciccarella, S. (2005). The effects of Wal-Mart on local labor markets. Web.

Walton, S., & Huey, J. (1992). Made in America: my story. New York: Doubleday.

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