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Transforming SUPERVALU by Exploiting Scale and Becoming Hyperlocal

Title Author(s) Type Topic(s) Comments Date
Transforming SUPERVALU by Exploiting Scale and Becoming HyperlocalQuaadgras, Anne
Taveras, John
Ross, Jeanne W.
Working PaperData Management, Analytics, and Use
IT-based Business Transformation
Abstract: To turn itself around, SUPERVALU, a major U.S. grocery chain that had been underperforming its sector since 2007, developed a strategy that combined two seemingly contradictory goals: to take advantage of its scale as the third largest grocery chain in the U.S., and at the same time better utilize the local knowledge of its 1,100 store directors and frontline employees. This case describes how SUPERVALU, with retail, hard-discount, and wholesale lines of business, implemented this strategy in its retail operations by focusing on three areas: centralizing processes and creating shared tools, creating a culture of sharing, and empowering store directors.

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June 28, 2012

This was a very interesting case study. The resolution of the centralized vs decentralized conundrum is very interesting. I often look at such organization problems through the lenses of Beer’s viable system model which identifies a number of essential building blocks which enable organizations to preserve autonomy at various scales while ensuring it functions as-a-whole. In VSM parlance, the use of tools such as Yammer act as “System 2” which helps effectively co-ordinate activities among autonomous “System 1” units.

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