Walmart’s Blockchain Quest: Integrating New Technology into a Complex Supply Chain

by: Andrew Hoffman

Publication Date: May 7, 2021
Length: 12 pages
Product ID#: 4-290-769

Core Disciplines: Entrepreneurship & Innovation, Information - Technology & Management, Operations Management/Supply Chain, Social Impact, Strategy & Management, Sustainability

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Teaching Note

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Blockchain is a digital, distributed, immutable ledger designed to build trust among parties without requiring an independent, third-party arbitrator or intermediary. The technology has potential to improve a variety of industries, including the complex, fragmented, analog food supply chain. In this case study, the fictional director of food safety at Walmart, Frederick Durmot, seeks to leverage blockchain for supply chain safety and transparency. The key dilemma is how to make Walmart’s blockchain implementation successful. While food safety improvements may alone represent a win for the company, blockchain could also have major impacts on supply chain efficiency, product design, and social and environmental issues. The major risk to consider is unwanted scrutiny due to heightened transparency in the supply chain.

Teaching Objectives

After reading and discussing the material, students should:

  • Understand the basics of blockchain technology.
  • Analyze supply chain stakeholders and their unique motivations.
  • Identify strategies to create value with innovation.
  • Weigh the potential risks and benefits of an unproven concept.
  • Determine the feasibility of a solution, based on context provided.