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Organizational Behavior, 12th Edition by James G. Hunt, Mary Uhl-Bien, Richard N. Osborn, John R. Schermerhorn, Jr.

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Whole Foods: Teaming Up for Success

Only two things unite the more than 300 Whole Foods Market locations: coordinated teamwork and the inflexible rule that all food sold must be free from artificial additives, sweeteners, colorings, and preservatives.a The rest is up to the individual stores. This balance between dogma and freedom permits stores to make decisions based on the input from their local teams instead of solely taking orders from corporate honchos. At Whole Foods, department members work as a team. Teams within stores operate as a team. Parallel departments in regional stores team up. And all stores within each of Whole Foods' 12 regions work as a team.

While Whole Foods does have a core management team, led by founder John Mackey and co-president Walter Robb, the regions operate largely free from corporate interference. Every store becomes local, and individual departments have license to develop personalities. Each market is free to act like a neighborhood store that just happens to be part of a huge franchise.

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“Culture is our secret weapon.” –Walter Robb, co-president of Whole Foods.e

John Moore, former National Marketing Director of Whole Foods, identifies a “Libertarian” theme of management running through the company. “[Whole Foods] operates under the belief stores should have the freedom to meet the needs of its unique customers and team members.”b

Each district, ...

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