Case | HBS Case Collection | September 2013

Wal-Mart Lobbying in India?

by Karthik Ramanna and Vidhya Muthuram

Abstract

In 2012, as part of a routine disclosure under U.S. law, Wal-Mart revealed it had spent $25 million since 2008 on lobbying to "enhance market access for investment in India." This disclosure, which came weeks after the Indian government made a controversial decision to permit FDI in the country's multi-brand retail sector, created uproar in India. Lobbying by multinationals drew strong emotions in India, evoking images of the millions spent by Enron in the 1990s to "educate Indians"—a suspected euphemism for bribery. Opposition political parties accused Wal-Mart of bribing the Indian government, which, on the eve of a general election, appointed a judicial commission to investigate Wal-Mart. Already under pressure from allegations of bribery in Mexico, Wal-Mart risked becoming embroiled in another embarrassing scandal. How had the company landed in its current situation and how could it respond to the investigation into its India-related lobbying?

Keywords: lobbying; india; multinational corporations; Business and Government Relations; Crime and Corruption; Retail Industry; India;

Citation:

Ramanna, Karthik, and Vidhya Muthuram. "Wal-Mart Lobbying in India?" Harvard Business School Case 114-023, September 2013.