1876.1 Wal-Mart's Response to Hurricane Katrina: Striving for a Public-Private Partnership (Sequel)
This epilogue accompanies the case Wal-Mart's Response to Hurricane Katrina (1876.0). As Hurricane Katrina roared towards the Louisiana and Mississippi coasts on August 28, 2005, the public sector-ranging from local law enforcement to the Federal Emergency Management Agency-feverishly prepared for what was expected to be a devastating hit. At the same time, the private sector was undergoing its own exhaustive preparations. At its Bentonville, Arkansas, headquarters, giant retailer Wal-Mart had already launched a comprehensive emergency response that included stocking stores in the storm zone with special merchandise; stationing teams to evaluate stores as soon as the hurricane passed; and gathering representatives of all major functional areas in a centralized emergency operations center in order to find displaced employees, re-open stores, and help stricken communities. After Hurricane Katrina caused catastrophic flooding that overwhelmed the government's response, though, Wal-Mart found itself playing a larger role than it had anticipated. The following chaotic weeks raised important questions about whether the public sector could take full advantage of the retailer's strengths and capabilities, and whether it was ready to accept a larger role for Wal-Mart and other companies in responding to national emergencies.
The case should be useful for those interested in emergency preparedness; inter-agency collaborations; public-private partnerships; and organizational behavior.