Published on December 9, 2022 by Morgan Black
Professors in Samford University’s Brock School of Business recently collaborated on new research highlighting the careers of retail innovators Sol Price and Sam Walton. Art Carden, the Margaret Gage Bush distinguished professor of economics, and Reggie Harris, assistant professor of management, partnered to write “The Vital Two: Retail Innovation by Sol Price and Sam Walton” which was published by Essays in Economic and Business History in November 2022.
Sol Price founded FedMart, Price Club and PriceSmart and is considered a pioneer of the "warehouse store" retail model. Sam Walton was best known for founding retail giants Walmart and Sam’s Club.
Together with Charles Courtemanche, associate professor of economics at the University of Kentucky, the coauthors explain how Price and Walton changed retail in the 20th century and how their careers provide informative examples of the judgment-based approach to entrepreneurship.
Price combined knowledge he assembled from real estate law and the firms he observed to find creative ways innovate in discount retail. Walton redeployed knowledge he received—in some cases, from watching Price. Walton also used the knowledge he acquired from studying retail logistics to develop a supply chain that dramatically lowered costs and passed those savings onto consumers. Both succeeded by developing organizations that effectively deployed entrepreneurial judgment.
According to their paper, Price and Walton’s legendary careers illustrate the importance of entrepreneurial judgment and, specifically, the investment decision. The two created opportunities in response to social, political and cultural changes that now help us create different approaches to entrepreneurship.
In addition to his faculty role, Carden is a senior fellow with the American Institute for Economic Research and the Fraser Institute. His research focuses on mass-market retailers, economic history and the history of economic ideas.
Harris’ research addresses the impact of social dynamics on organization outcomes in the entrepreneurship, mergers and acquisitions, and nonprofit contexts.
“This display of cross-disciplinary research by Dr. Carden and Dr. Harris is a hallmark of our Brock School of Business faculty,” said Dean Chad Carson. “It’s imperative that our faculty continue this work so our students can see how disciplines merge to create successful business progression.”
Samford is a leading Christian university offering undergraduate programs grounded in the liberal arts with an array of nationally recognized graduate and professional schools. Founded in 1841, Samford is the 87th-oldest institution of higher learning in the United States. The Wall Street Journal ranks Samford 1st nationally for student engagement and U.S. News & World Report ranks Samford 66th in the nation for best undergraduate teaching and 104th nationally for best value. Samford enrolls 5,683 students from 47 states and 19 countries in its 10 academic schools: arts, arts and sciences, business, divinity, education, health professions, law, nursing, pharmacy and public health. Samford fields 17 athletic teams that compete in the tradition-rich Southern Conference, and ranks 6th nationally for its Graduation Success Rate among all NCAA Division I schools.