Walmart and USAID: The Evolution of a Global Cross-Sector Partnership

by: Ted London, Colm Fay

Publication Date: July 31, 2015
Length: 24 pages
Product ID#: 1-430-438

Core Disciplines: Base of the Pyramid, Operations Management/Supply Chain

Partner Collection:

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Teaching Note

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This case explores the evolution of the cross-sector relationship between Wal-Mart Stores, Inc., Walmart Foundation and the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) from 2000-2015. It focuses on partnerships that sought to build the capacity of smallholder farmers in the developing world. The case explores the ways in which this collaboration came about, how it was supported by the partners, and the level of success achieved as measured by the Wal-Mart Stores, Inc., Walmart Foundation, and USAID. The case dilemma is to identify learnings drawn from these partnerships and determine how they can be applied to a more ambitious approach to collaboration. From Walmart’s perspective, further collaboration with USAID could result in a partnership strategy that yields both significant social impact and important business outcomes. However, the partnership model had to enable innovation and flexibility, while maintaining efficiency, sustainability, and scalability.

Teaching Objectives

After reading and discussing the material, students should:

  • Understand the opportunities and challenges inherent in bridging public and private goals in the context of a partnership between a multinational company and a large development agency.
  • Understand different types of partnerships and how they can deliver different types of value to the partners.
  • Understand how internal structure, cross-organizational interaction and resource flow, and shifting strategic objectives can influence partnership development and success.