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the next phase – a stakeholder involvement strategy. According to theory, this is the most appropriate CSR communication strategy.327

The move towards pursuing and integration of aspects of the stakeholder involvement strategy is shown by the intensification of the level of commitment in their partnerships. At top management level, IKEA has a dialogue with its partners and some of its other NGO stakeholders in order to learn what expectations the stakeholders have on it. Criticism has nonetheless come from several of its external stakeholders (not from partners) that IKEA talks a lot about engaging stakeholders in its decision making, but in fact does little to engage in the exchange of ideas.328 According to IKEA there is an exchange of ideas and it is interested in learning and changing, although it tends to find its partners too idealistic sometimes.329 IKEA’s partner NGOs have written some of IKEA’s IWAY regulations and ethics codes. NGOs are involved, participate and suggest corporate actions to IKEA. At IKEA, the wish is to make its partners involved in the corporate CSR messages as this third party endorsement entails legitimacy.330

Although its CSR commitment is generally quite high, IKEA generally chooses not to self-promote its initiatives, and instead relies on partners and on media to communicate its CSR initiatives. Its own view on CSR communication consists of the use of a traditional PR model to promote its initiatives and of communication efforts in the catalogue and on its website in the form of sustainability reports and information on CSR projects.331 However, as the level of commitment to partnerships has increased and evolved, we see that it has moved partially to the stakeholder involvement strategy. One can thus regard the symmetric stakeholder involvement strategy as being complemented by a one- sided PR strategy.

Its strategy to date for CSR transparency towards customers has been to inform about country of origin and raw materials used in the product itself. However, although this is supposedly the company’s strategy, it is surprising that it has not put in place any formal eco-labeling on its products. Furthermore, it does not provide any additional information on different CSR activities undertaken in connection with the production of the good. According to theory, this would be the path to follow as statistics show that the public wants to be informed of CSR activities on the product or label itself.332 IKEA has used its website and its sustainability report in order to inform about its CSR activities and partnerships. However, as one of our interviewees pointed out few customers actually read the information on the website; information in newspapers is much more effective in reaching people.333 We see that IKEA is now in the process of changing its communication strategy both internally and externally – it is starting to communicate more directly to customers in stores through informational posters and to its co-workers through the in-house magazine “Readme”, meetings and e-learning and through establishing a CSR coordinator for every store. The internal communication channel has often been underestimated but can be a powerful tool for credibility334 and thus legitimacy. IKEA has only commenced its efforts in this area and the integration of CSR coordinators cannot yet be evaluated.


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