K.2.1 IKEA’s corporate social agenda By looking at IKEA’s corporate social agenda and categorizing its social issues into generic social
issues, value chain and social impacts or social dimensions of competitive context, we can see whether a company focuses resources and attention on more responsive or strategic CSR. We find many of the social issues at IKEA can be included in several categories.
K.2.1.1 Generic social issues Generic social issues constitute responsive CSR as they do not have any immediate effect on a
company’s long-term competitiveness but instead only are significant for society. We see that although IKEA’s commitment is not to save the entire world, it does in fact focus on some generic social issues as it is increasingly broadening the focus of its CSR298. IKEA’s partnerships with UNICEF and “Save the Children” have for instance led it to start IKEA Social Initiative in 2005 and it has gradually widened its partnership with “Save the Children” in Sweden to encompassing the International “Save the Children” Alliance. The generic social issues exist at corporate as well as at store level. Through IKEA’s partnership with UNICEF at corporate level, it works on projects to emancipate women in India through the offering of micro-credits, as well as to build schools. An example of this at store level is the sale of UNICEF postcards and at the Kungens Kurva store the voluntary collection of money for the spare parts was donated to UNICEF’s relief aid for the children in Burma affected by the cyclone disaster in 2008. This is not something in line with IKEA’s business plan and should thus not create shared value, but merely create value for society. According to Porter & Kramer299, this is hence an issue that should not be prioritized or rather be avoided. Nevertheless, a seemingly generic social issue can create shared value; although its effect can be claimed to be modest. Our study shows that instead of IKEA moving away from responsive CSR, it is integrating more generic social issues into its corporate social agenda. This may show that there in fact are factors beyond direct competitiveness that are important when choosing CSR activities. IKEA regards its employees and customers as being its two most significant stakeholders and our IKEA interviewees regarded local charity projects as greatly appreciated by these stakeholders, thereby creating goodwill.300 Furthermore, one of our interviewees, S. Koerfer, pointed out that IKEA does not consider these projects to be generic social issues, as IKEA sees projects involving the welfare of children and adolescents as having a direct connection to the company, due to families with young children being its primary target group. In addition to this, local projects such as the donation of furniture to local institutions only imply a marginal cost to IKEA as the in-kind donation of old furniture comes from the store’s bargain corner.301
K.2.1.2 Value chain and social impacts Value chain and social impacts are social issues that are significantly affected by the company's
activities in the ordinary course of business. These constitute responsive CSR when the focus is on only mitigating harm from value chain activities but strategic when one transforms value chain activities to benefit society whilst reinforcing strategy. A large part of IKEA’s CSR efforts involves value chain impacts. Furthermore, I. Hrdlickova reasoned that IKEA has chosen to focus its CSR on the value chain instead of just donating money to organizations as it can make the greatest impact in the value chain through providing jobs, improving employee working conditions.302 This form of CSR is also closest to its capabilities and expertise. Some of this value chain CSR may be considered more
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Interview, Koerfer, S., 2008-10-22, Interview, Gylhenius, A., 2008-11-10. Porter, M. & Kramer, M. (2006). Interview, Koerfer, S., 2008-10-22, Interview, Fredriksson, Å., 2008-11-10. Interview, Koerfer, S., 2008-10-22. Interview, Hrdlickova, I., 2008-12-23.