When Does “Bullying Suppliers” Pay Off?

The buyer-seller dynamic at the industrial level is invisible to consumers; so for this Discussion, we’ll dip into recent history.

Walmart (WM) is infamous for squeezing every penny out of their suppliers. They think doing so is essential if they’re going to give their customers “Everyday low prices,” and allow them to “Save money, live better,” while still making money. One of WM’s suppliers was an iconic 66-year-old American firm named Rubbermaid. In 1999, WM refused to accede to their request for a small price increase, and Rubbermaid was forced into bankruptcy.

Enter the phrase “Walmart vs. Rubbermaid” into your browser app, and inform yourself about the affair. Then consider this. After everything we’ve read in this module, it seems that there are still situations in which supplier-customer cooperation is not needed to ensure the customer’s survival and growth. After all, WM is still around, and richer than ever.

What characterizes such situations? In other words, under what circumstances are “bullying” a supplier, or a customer, a sound business strategy? Or does it only seem to be a sound strategy? Explain.


Module 2 is about transportation modes for goods. Let’s expand the discussion to include transportation modes for people.

Many American municipalities, over the years, have tried hard to get residents out of their cars and into public transportation. The results have been mixed, at best. Do you use public transportation? Why or why not? What would have to happen before you got out of your car and into a bus, streetcar, train or whatever?

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