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Discussion Questions

1. How would you describe the merchandising and operational decisions made by Whole Foods Market in terms of the rational, bounded rationality, and garbage can models of decision making?


            Whole Foods Market, being the biggest international retailer of natural and organic foods, formulates the decision making principally on the method of decentralization within a structure of an organization in regional basis.

Talking about decision-making, there are various approaches that model the solving and identifying decision both in the individual and organizational level. Three of which are rational and bounded rationality approach, both under the individual decision making; and the garbage can models of decision making which requires a collective decision making process.

Describing the approach implemented in the Whole Food Market using the rational model of decision making, the decision is made by every members of the team contained by in their areas of responsibilities and is dependent on the identified problem and solution. The organization employs self-directed teams to store operations within each region and those self-directed teams at individual store level make the many of the decisions in the personnel, merchandising and operational department. Each of the 158 stores of the Whole Food Market has eleven self-directed teams, which is supervised by an effective store team leader. Furthermore, each team is in charge for the different department or for the various product categories. (“The Context of Decision Making at Whole Foods Market Case”)

            If systematic evaluation in a rational manner that is to choosing the best alternative so as to come up with a decision is inapplicable, there arise the perspective of the bounded rationality. Using this model, members made decision based on experience and gut feeling. Meanwhile, garbage can decision-making is built on to clarify the decision making pattern in organizations that undergo very extreme intensity of indecisiveness. An organization is viewed as a large garbage can in which the problem, solutions, participants and alternatives all flows.

2. What role does participation play in the decision-making process at Whole Foods Market?

            Because of the decentralization structure of Whole Foods Market, participation plays a very vital role in the decision-making process at the Whole Foods Market. This includes the participation of the members of the team, organization, costumer, and supplier contributions.

            Every team members take part in the making decisions for an efficient operation of the business. Moreover, the organization values their customers and offers the best service to deliver more customer satisfaction. To decide on any modification that certain team should imply in any product, services, and the store, they rely on the results of the feedbacks that they are receiving from the customers. Setting up a bulletin board does this where customers are free to post their ideas such as questions, comments, suggestions and requests. Request and other considerations are being attended to by the team members by means of either the use of telecommunication or reposting the reply on the board. Each team members ensures that the customers not just knew the offered products and services but also clients recognize what the products and services are all about and other information necessary that may lead in full understanding.

            The organization is able to determine their operation to accomplish the company’s vision through customer satisfaction, team member excellence and happiness, return on capital investments, state environment development, and local and superior societal support.

            To add on the important function that participation performs in the decision making process, the Whole Foods Market establishes a close relationship with its suppliers in the Supply Chain. The organization encourages and supports the farmers and in return, these local farmers stay and ensure the steady supply of quality and fresh organic products. (“The Context of Decision Making at Whole Foods Market Case”)

3. How does Whole Foods Market incorporate ethical considerations into its decision-making?

            In accordance with the organizational mission and vision, which is summarized in the company’s motto, “Whole Foods, Whole People, Whole Earth”, Whole Foods Market aims to provide the supreme quality, least processed and organically processed preserved foods. With this, the company guarantees and cooperates with the suppliers included in the supply chain. The company is also promoting to the local farmers the production with the use of organic method to ensure quality and freshness of the yields. The same approach is implemented to the produce other than those local. These goods comprise of topmost quality and freshness in its fish and seafood products. In addition to that, the Whole Foods Market is willing to pay premium prices to acquire premium supply such as coffee beans in order to facilitate coffee farmers to continuously supply and stay in the business. All together, these decisions and procedures by Whole Foods Market promote, maintain and support the maintenance of the company’s small business suppliers. Consecutively, this makes certain that consistent resources of excellent natural and organic products are obtainable and existing to gratify the wants and needs of the consumer.

            Furthermore, the organization committed itself in creating for its human resource a courteous place of work where everyone is treated equally and highly motivated in performing business operation. The top management allows the lower management and its subordinates to decide on more efficient and effective operation of the business.

            Truly, as stated in the company’s motto, Whole Foods Market gives emphasis to the extent of the organizational vision which a long way from just being a food retailer business.


McCuddy, M.K. The Context of Decision Making at Whole Foods Market Case. pp352-353.

Whole Food Market, Inc. Form 10-K: Annual Report [Electronic Version]. Retrieved May 7, 2007 from http://www.wholefoodsmarket.com/investor/ar03_10k.pdf


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