general communication strategy of modesty and not bragging about accomplishments, but instead that CSR is to be communicated in a discrete fashion on various levels. In accordance with theory, IKEA should continue to pursue a stakeholder involvement strategy, but complement it with coordinated efforts in stores and PR. Employees should also be more involved in efforts through a bottom-up CSR management. The fact that IKEA is introducing CSR coordinators in all stores and CSR contact persons in each department will greatly contribute to facilitating this. We see that IKEA is moving in the right direction through establishing the position of global communication head for CSR and through communicating its different partnerships through information by the product. Furthermore, labels on the product as well as informational posters next to products informing of the CSR activities undertaken in the production of this product are suitable means of communicating CSR to consumers in the store. Moreover, the great synergy effects of CSR communication (in terms of employees communicating positively about CSR issues to customers) can only be obtained if CSR becomes an integrated part of the IKEA concept. Otherwise the efforts will remain uncoordinated and disparate within and across countries. Currently, the IKEA stores do not co-operate on CSR projects. However, we think that co-operation is necessary and should be encouraged in order to learn from each other and realize potential synergy effects. Furthermore, employees on all hierarchical levels need to be further educated about CSR and it should become a more visible core value of IKEA, in the same fashion as cost-consciousness and democratic design.
7.1.3 Implications for the business world at large Considering the magnitude and success of IKEA’s CSR efforts, the results of this paper can be of
significant value to companies wishing to implement and integrate their CSR efforts into their core competencies and strategies. Smaller companies and start-ups may not be able to focus their CSR efforts on philanthropic activities and generic social issues as IKEA is doing, as they lack the financial resources. However, as a company grows and acquires a larger customer base, legitimacy and reputation will become increasingly important and may require a greater mix of CSR issues.
IKEA’s ability to reduce costs through CSR can be regarded as a signal to other companies that see CSR merely as a necessary cost. The importance of CSR in society is increasing and thereby the need for companies to integrate it successfully. Companies can learn from IKEA’s experience that, whilst they perhaps cannot identically duplicate IKEA’s success because of its unique value-based company culture, they can save resources by integrating CSR in every step of the value chain. The first step for a company to undertake successful CSR is to systematically evaluate the value chain and observe areas where they can provide tangible joint value for society as well as the company’s competitiveness. We also see that a broad and socially oriented vision with a corresponding company culture facilitates the successful integration of CSR. Of course not all companies can be based on the same values as IKEA, but larger effort can be put on storytelling to motivate employees. CSR can be viewed as a form of total quality management for the entire company. Once, this step is completed and the company has acquired knowledge of CSR through experience and co-operation with NGOs, it can broaden its focus on social issues as IKEA has done. The case of IKEA also shows that CSR is more easily implemented in a company where the company culture views CSR not as a cost and an external demand forced upon the company, but instead as a valuable challenge for the company that it commits itself to fully.
7.2 Limitations of study
We need not remind that there are certain limitations and delimitations to our study. The choice of research method has its constraints. The generalizability of our findings is limited due to the nature of case studies, just as we foresaw in the methodology chapter. Another concern regards the