Walmart has a hybrid hierarchical-functional organizational structure, otherwise referred to as a matrix structure that combines multiple approaches. On the one hand, Walmart follows a hierarchical structure, where the current CEO Doug McMillon is the only employee without a direct superior, and directives are sent from top-level management. On the other hand, the function-based structure of Walmart’s business model is used to categorize employees according to their particular skills and experience.
|Department||Type of Structure||Structure Details||Advantages||Drawbacks|
|Corporate Leadership||Hierarchy||– Walmart’s corporate leadership operates within a hierarchical structure, with clear levels of authority and responsibility. The structure includes executive leadership, senior management, and various divisions and departments, such as finance, legal, and corporate affairs.||– Clear lines of authority and accountability. Efficient decision-making process. Well-defined roles and responsibilities.||Potential slow decision-making due to multiple levels of approval. Limited flexibility in responding to rapid changes in the retail industry.|
|Retail Operations||Divisional Structure||– Walmart’s retail operations are organized into divisions, each responsible for a specific geographic region or store format. The divisions include Walmart U.S., Walmart International, and Sam’s Club, each with its own leadership team. Within each division, there are further divisions based on specific geographic regions or markets.||– Tailored approach to different markets and regions. Quick adaptation to local market conditions. Specialization in retail operations.||Potential coordination challenges between divisions. May result in variations in retail strategies across regions.|
|Supply Chain Management||Functional Structure||– Supply chain management functions follow a functional structure, with specialized teams for logistics, transportation, inventory management, and procurement. These teams manage the flow of products from suppliers to distribution centers and stores.||– Efficient management of the supply chain. Specialized expertise in logistics and inventory management.||Potential challenges in cross-functional collaboration between supply chain and other business units. May not align with specific business divisions.|
|Finance and Accounting||Functional Structure||– The Finance and Accounting functions operate with a functional structure, comprising specialized teams for financial reporting, auditing, and financial planning and analysis. Each team handles financial matters, including budgeting, financial reporting, and risk management.||– Efficient financial management and reporting. Specialized expertise in financial matters.||Potential challenges in cross-functional collaboration with other business units. May not align with specific business divisions.|
|Marketing and Sales||Divisional Structure||– Walmart’s marketing and sales operations follow a divisional structure, with divisions responsible for different regions or store formats. Marketing teams develop strategies tailored to specific markets. Sales divisions oversee retail operations and customer experience. Walmart also has an e-commerce division focused on online sales.||– Customized marketing and sales strategies for different regions and customer segments. Quick adaptation to regional market conditions. Specialization in retail marketing.||Potential coordination challenges between regional divisions. May lead to variations in marketing and sales strategies across regions.|
|Technology and Innovation||Hybrid Structure||– Walmart’s technology and innovation functions combine elements of both functional and divisional structures. There is a centralized technology team responsible for global IT initiatives and infrastructure. However, innovation teams within different divisions also focus on technology solutions tailored to their specific needs, such as e-commerce or supply chain innovation.||– Efficient management of global IT infrastructure. Specialized technology solutions for division-specific needs. Flexibility to innovate at the divisional level.||Potential challenges in balancing centralized and divisional technology initiatives. May require effective coordination between central IT and divisional innovation teams.|
|Human Resources||Functional Structure||– The Human Resources function operates with a functional structure, focusing on HR-related functions such as talent acquisition, talent development, and employee relations. Teams handle HR matters across the organization, including recruitment, training, and performance management.||– Efficient management of human resources and talent-related activities. Specialized expertise in HR functions.||Potential challenges in cross-functional collaboration with business units. May not align with specific business divisions.|
|Sustainability and CSR||Cross-Functional||– Walmart’s sustainability and corporate social responsibility (CSR) efforts involve cross-functional collaboration. While there is a dedicated sustainability team, sustainability initiatives require collaboration across various departments, including supply chain, marketing, and corporate affairs. The company’s sustainability goals are integrated into its overall business strategy.||– Holistic approach to sustainability and CSR, integrating it into business operations. Collaboration across functions for a shared purpose.||Potential challenges in ensuring consistent sustainability practices across the organization. Requires effective cross-functional coordination and alignment with corporate strategy.|
Walmart Business Model
History of Walmart
Understanding Walmart’s organizational structure
Walmart has an organizational structure characterized by the presence of a hierarchy and function-based groups. Since the company combines two different organizational structures, it can be said that Walmart utilizes a matrix organizational structure.
This allows Walmart to operate its vast retail presence in the United States and around the world, with approximately 10,500 stores under 46 banners in 24 countries. In fact, many similar multinational companies use this approach to deal with multiple divisions and functional structures at the same time.
In the following sections, we’ll take a closer look at Walmart’s organizational structure.
Walmart utilizes the hierarchical structure which means that current CEO Doug McMillon is the only employee without a direct superior.
Directives are sent from top-level management to regional managers, district managers, middle managers, store managers, and store team members as required. This allows executives to easily exert their influence on the organization and monitor the impacts of decisions. What’s more, the hierarchical structure allows the company to effectively manage its more than 2.3 million associates.
Walmart has a 12-member Board of Directors with members of the founding Walton family and other individuals. Under the Board of Directors is the Executive Committee comprised of executives in roles such as Chief Financial Officer, Chief Technology Officer, and Chief Legal Officer and Corporate Secretary.
On the next level down is Senior Leadership consisting of 39 executives across a diverse range of roles in technology, merchandising, compliance, ethics, health & wellness, and international strategy, to name just a few.
The function-based structure of Walmart is used to categorize employees according to their particular skills and experience.
For example, function-based groups may include human resources, marketing, customer care, and production. Each group is headed by a manager who liaises with individual store managers to meet company objectives.
Furthermore, different Walmart store formats will be comprised of different departments. The member-only retail warehouse Sam’s Club, for example, will possess some functional groups that are not present in a Walmart Discount Store. Walmart Supercentres that incorporate banks, hairdressers, nail salons, pharmacists, restaurants, and optometrists will also incorporate several departments that are not relevant to a standard Walmart Discount Store.
- Walmart has a hybrid hierarchical-functional organizational structure, otherwise referred to as a matrix structure that combines multiple approaches.
- Walmart utilizes the hierarchical structure which means that current CEO Doug McMillon is the only employee without a direct superior. Directives are sent from top-level management to regional managers, district managers, middle managers, store managers, and store team members when required.
- The function-based structure of Walmart is used to categorize employees according to their particular skills and experience. Examples include sales, marketing, human resources, customer care, and production.
- Hybrid Hierarchical-Functional Structure: Walmart employs a hybrid organizational structure that blends elements of both hierarchical and function-based approaches. This combination is often referred to as a matrix structure, allowing Walmart to effectively manage its vast operations.
- CEO’s Role: In the hierarchical aspect of the structure, the current CEO, Doug McMillon, stands out as the sole employee without a direct superior. This gives him a pivotal role in the decision-making process and overall management.
- Hierarchical Directives: Walmart’s hierarchical structure facilitates the flow of directives from top-level management down to various organizational levels. This ensures that executive decisions and strategies are effectively communicated and implemented throughout the company.
- Board of Directors and Executive Committee: Walmart’s leadership includes a 12-member Board of Directors, which includes members of the Walton family and other individuals. Below the Board of Directors, the Executive Committee comprises key executives responsible for different areas such as finance, technology, and legal affairs.
- Senior Leadership Team: The Senior Leadership team consists of 39 executives who handle diverse roles in various domains, including technology, merchandising, compliance, ethics, health & wellness, and international strategy.
- Function-Based Groups: Walmart’s function-based structure involves categorizing employees based on their skills and expertise. This results in various functional groups, such as human resources, marketing, customer care, and production, each headed by a manager.
- Adaptation to Store Formats: Different store formats within Walmart’s portfolio, such as Sam’s Club and Walmart Supercenters, accommodate distinct departments and functional groups based on the specific needs of each format. This flexibility allows Walmart to tailor its operations to different customer requirements.
- Global Operations: With over 10,500 stores across 24 countries, Walmart’s matrix organizational structure proves beneficial in managing its multinational operations and ensuring consistency while addressing local variations.
More about Walmart’s business model
Types of Organizational Structures
Siloed Organizational Structures
Open Organizational Structures
Connected Business Frameworks
Organizational Structure Case Studies
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