representative quality of focusing on one single country – Sweden. We have thus not captured the full global perspective of IKEA’s CSR. We are aware that we would most probably have acquired a substantially different perspective had we interviewed individuals outside of Sweden. Some of the interviewees highlighted the great focus and awareness of CSR in Scandinavia as opposed to the rest of Europe and the world. We see the awareness and perception of CSR as culturally influenced. At the same time, the great awareness of CSR in Sweden also benefits our essay as the people studied were knowledgeable and interested in CSR issues.
As the resources available were limited, the scope of this thesis too has been restricted. We see the development of the view of CSR on store level as being very interesting and thus the thesis would have benefited from including interviews with additional store managers. Furthermore, it would have been interesting to interview and incorporate other stakeholders’ perspectives on IKEA’s CSR initiatives such as the NGOs that IKEA is working with or suppliers. We also realize that our thesis is based on interviews with people in top management and middle management that have a more strategic role in ensuring CSR and not on those that are receivers of CSR communication and directives. Hence, we speculate that we possibly would have gained a more nuanced picture of IKEA’s CSR had we interviewed employees working directly in the store or directly with suppliers. Another possible limitation of our study is that four of the interviewees hold recently created positions within IKEA’s CSR organization. Therefore, they may be more involved in and focused on future initiatives, rather than having experienced the evolution of CSR at IKEA.
The field of study of CSR is constantly evolving and consists of a wide array of definitions, none mutually exclusive but none comprehensive. This has created problems when it comes to our dealings with IKEA - its definition does not always encompass all that is associated with CSR as it is merely defined as environmental and social responsibility. Depending on which person that was interviewed, their scope of CSR differed. Furthermore, IKEA is at a crossroads in its CSR efforts, not only when it comes to its execution, but also of its strategy, marketing and communication. Some of our conclusions are in line with what is already planned at IKEA, some are not.
7.3 Further research
After completing our study, we have come up with several suggestions for further research. In light of the novelty of the field, we have encountered many gaps of knowledge when it comes to evaluating a company and its strategy. We find that the link between CSR motivations, CSR strategy and CSR communication has not been fully explored; with the link between CSR strategy and CSR communication being most current and intriguing. We would like to see a study of the link between these two phenomenons. Another suggestion for further research would be to study a variety of companies in order to conceptualize a wider range of different CSR strategies, in addition to the ones already prevalent. We found IKEA unique as it combines CSR efforts with low prices in contrast to many CSR-oriented companies that charge price premiums for such products. It follows that it would be interesting to study the signalling effect of low prices on consumers’ perception of the ethicality and CSR responsibility of a company. A different possible area of research could be to study how culture influences the motivations for CSR and CSR strategy, by interviewing CSR managers in several countries where IKEA is present. This would lead to an understanding of how much of the findings of this study were culturally influenced. Finally, we feel that a follow-up study on IKEA would be interesting, as it would allow an evaluation of the results of IKEA’s instatement of CSR coordinators and new focus on communication.