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that a qualitative study would readily answer the research questions. Our ambition with this study is to study why and how IKEA engages in CSR. In line with Rubin and Rubin’s (2003) variables for interviewee choices (experience, knowledgeability and representation of different perspectives), we sought to interview employees that came in to contact with CSR issues or were responsible for this subject. Furthermore, we wanted to interview people from different parts of the company, both from IKEA Service Office and the IKEA stores in the Stockholm region (Barkarby and Kungens Kurva). Our contact person at IKEA was kind enough to help us come into contact with some suitable interviewees. After each interview we asked the interviewees for further interview subjects, so as to be able to speak to all relevant people. We also chose to interview additional people who had not been recommended to us, in order to prevent a bias. We conducted 13 interviews in total with nine of these being with people currently working at IKEA. Furthermore, on two occasions in connection to guest lectures at Stockholm School of Economics, we conducted spontaneous “mini-interviews”, as these could provide us with new insights on the fields of sustainable reporting and purchasing at IKEA. These mini-interviews lasted approximately 20 minutes each. We interviewed Bo Edvardsson from Karlstads Universitet as he and his colleague Bo Enquist are experts in IKEA’s value-based company culture and have together published substantial research on this subject, providing us with interesting insights on the subject. Furthermore, we also interviewed a representative of an NGO watchdog, Fair Trade Centre to gain additional perspectives on IKEA’s CSR. This information, however, has only been used sparsely in the essay as our goal is not to evaluate IKEA’s CSR in terms of being good or bad.

Interviews can be conducted by asking open-ended questions, focused questions or a survey. To avoid steering the interviewees, a semi-structured open-ended questions format was used. We started off with a standard interview template of questions, which we adapted to the interviewee’s competence area. Thus, we started off with predetermined questions, letting the interviewee develop his or her answers in the direction of choice. We started off every interview with an IKEA employee by presenting ourselves and the background to our study. Thereafter we let the interviewees give their definition of CSR; describe their work field and how it relates to CSR. In the cases we encountered responses we could not understand, we asked the interviewees to clarify their answers. The interviews lasted between 30 minutes and three hours, with a mean of one hour. The interviews were conducted at the IKEA stores Barkarby and Kungens Kurva and at a café in central Stockholm. When we could not meet in person due to geographical distance, we found alternative methods: one interview was conducted by email and four by telephone. All interviews were conducted in Swedish.

The interviews were conducted with each actor separately with both of us present at all in-person interviews with the IKEA employees; one asked questions whilst the other took notes and made sure that the questions were being answered. We made sure that the interviewees exemplified and developed the answers so as to make sure of the accuracy of our later interpretation. As we used an inductive approach, we did not have a determined hypothesis to test. This entailed initial adjustments among the chosen list of questions. On two occasions we chose to conduct follow-up interviews when our data collection had led us in a new direction. In line with Glaser and Strauss guidelines13, we let the early empirical data influence further questions. In our case this included not asking about certain areas, as well as the manner in which we defined CSR.

The interviewees were:

  • Manager of Social and Environmental Responsibility at IKEA Sweden: Thomas Bergmark


Alvesson, M. & Sköldberg, K. (1994).


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