CITS Faculty Lecture Series (FLS) Event: Nelson Lichtenstein

Event Date: 

Thursday, March 4, 2010 - 12:00pm

Event Location: 

  • HSSB 6020

How Southern Backwardness Made Wal-Mart Executives Love High Tech and Low Wages.

Sam Walton founded Ozark-based Wal-Mart and made it a distinctively productive corporation in the decades immediately following World War II. The key to success was a rationalization of the firm's chaotic and expensive supply chain and the efficient employment of thousands of poorly-educated refugees from the agricultural revolution then sweeping the old Southwest. Bar codes, scanners, satellite uplinks, computerized cash registers, and giant data warehouses proved some of the digital resources that Walton deployed to transform a regional chain of five and dime stores into an internationally pervasive big box phenomenon.

Nelson Lichtenstein directs the Center for the Study of Work, Labor, and Democracy at UCSB. He is now writing a history of how U.S. intellectuals have thought about capitalism since the end of the Civil War.