issue is evolving and is now directed at more of a role-related responsibility.250 Several of the interviewees regard IKEA’s CSR as progressively broadening and expanding to not only focusing on customers and employees but also on the local community and society at large: IKEA is moving towards focusing its CSR efforts on community involvement.251 This is shown through the increased co-operation with partners, such as the establishment of IKEA Social Initiative and focus on local projects in the stores. This is further highlighted by the fact that Ingvar Kamprad has taken the first steps towards broadening the scope of the Stichting Ingka Foundation's philanthropic efforts, beyond the field of interior decorating.252
Legitimacy/License to operate Legitimacy can be considered as one of the primary motivations for CSR activities at IKEA. One can
see IKEA’s CSR efforts as partly resulting from coercive isomorphism253 as IKEA states that it is aware of an increasing external pressure on it from different actors; particularly from media and customers. All interviewees believe that societal expectations have had a substantial effect on IKEA’s operations. This is because IKEA’s main competitive advantage is low costs, and although the old focus was “low cost at all cost”254, this is no longer possible in today’s society and business climate. IKEA views society as having pushed CSR to priority number one255 and if it ignored these issues, this would result in its death.256 Furthermore, from the empirical material we find that IKEA’s CSR in the form of IWAY and support of suppliers is a means for IKEA to legitimize global sourcing and procurement. Following Carroll257, legitimacy involves finding out which are the most important stakeholders and judging their respective legitimacy and power. As CSR issues have increased in importance, NGOs have become powerful stakeholders, as they have the means to impact consumers and employees. Therefore, one can consider IKEA’s involvement in partnerships with leading NGOs as a legitimacy umbrella for its CSR activities and for the organization in general. According to theory, legitimacy management is heavily focused on communication as legitimacy is based on perception.258 When viewing our empirical findings in the light of this statement, it might thus seem paradoxical that IKEA is so reluctant to communicate its CSR efforts, when this in fact would give it greater legitimacy. The reasons for this stance is that IKEA regards itself as still being in the learning phase when it comes to CSR and that communication could be regarded as “green-wash”259, a legitimate fear in light of Pedersen and Neergaard’s260 and Ashfort and Gibbs’261 research. It prefers external actors to communicate IKEA’s CSR efforts, offering the company legitimacy by association.262 This is further discussed in the communication section of the analysis (see section 7.3).
Total quality management (TQM) CSR can be considered one of the greatest drivers of TQM in IKEA. Although the interviewees do not
employ this particular term, it is clear from their statements that CSR contributes to making the company better and leaner – T. Bergmark states that in 9 out of 10 cases, there is a perfect
250 251 252 253 254 255 256 257 258 259 260 261 262
Lantos, G. (2001). Interview, Koerfer, S., 2008-10-22, Interview, Fredriksson, Å., 2008-11-10, Interview, Gyhlenius, A., 2008-11-10. http://www.e24.se/branscher/konsumentvaror/artikel_872593.e24 Powell, P. & DiMaggio, W. (1983). Interview, Gyhlenius, A., 2008-11-10. Interview, Koerfer, S., 2008-10-22. Interview, Gyhlenius, A., 2008-11-10. Carroll, A. (1991). Powell, P. & DiMaggio, W. (1983). Interview, Bergmark, T., 2008-05-26. Pedersen, E. & Neergaard, P. (2006). Ashfort, B. & Gibbs, B. (1990). Interview, Stål, E., 2008-10-22.