1.1 Research question and purpose
In light of the above, this thesis aims to answer the following research question: “Why and how does IKEA engage in CSR?” In order to acquire clarity in the way CSR works in practice, we chose to study a company and the ways in which CSR is strategically integrated and implemented. IKEA was a suitable case company, in part because it has ranked high in CSR ratings4, but also because it is considered a value-based company5, which might facilitate the integration of CSR in its business model. Through qualitative research with top management at IKEA, we will derive a case study centred on IKEA’s motivations for CSR, its CSR strategy and communication of CSR. Our way of approaching our research question is to first underline the motivations for CSR at IKEA: why IKEA engages in CSR. We then examine how IKEA engages in CSR, by examining IKEA’s CSR strategy and the way in which CSR is integrated into corporate strategy. The last part of the analysis delves into IKEA’s communication of CSR, as the communication of CSR is intrinsically linked to strategy.
1.2 Earlier research and contributions
In the research phase of our thesis we found that the research available on either CSR or IKEA in relation to CSR focused on either the stakeholder perspective6 or IKEA’s value-based service and company culture7. We were not able to find any research dealing with IKEA’s CSR strategy and no integrative studies that include the link between motivations, strategy and communication. To focus on only one area can be a strength, but we decided to study the whole scope in order to better determine how these elements are linked and influence each other. This thesis makes a novel contribution to the research field as it is written in a time when IKEA is substantially changing its view on CSR and the way in which activities are coordinated and communicated. It thereby offers insight into the past and present strategy and future direction and motives. IKEA is moving into a consolidation phase of their CSR strategy as they want to broaden their scope of CSR activities, create new CSR positions in the organization and prioritize the communication of CSR. This dynamic of change was witnessed in our interviews and is something we have attempted to capture in our thesis.
The thesis focuses on one case company with the motivation that IKEA is a unique company in terms of history, corporate culture, vision and with a developed CSR strategy. This permits us to acquire a nuanced and extensive understanding of the company’s view on CSR. We have mainly focused on IKEA Sweden, a natural geographic delimitation, as the company’s headquarter functions lie in Sweden and so the majority of changes derive from there. Although we find the global perspective on CSR interesting, it is too vast a subject. Nevertheless, we have chosen to include the global supply chain as this is one of the focus areas of IKEA’s CSR activities and one of the areas which our interviewees chose to talk about. Furthermore, we limited our study to the two IKEA stores in Stockholm: Barkarby and Kungens Kurva. Further interviews could have given us additional insights; however, we believe the number of interviews conducted with people at IKEA Service Office and at the IKEA stores has given us a comprehensive view of IKEA’s CSR.
4 http://www.newsdesk.se/view/pressrelease/ikea-favorit-bland-csr-experterna-som-googlar-foer-att-kolla-om- foeretagen-pratar-sanning-183120. Enquist, B. & Edvardsson, B., (2002), Enquist, B. & Edvardsson, B. (2009). Maon, F. & Swaen, V. (2006). Enquist, B. & Edvardsson, B., (2002), Enquist, B. & Edvardsson, B. (2009). 5 6 7