CULTURE BUILDING IN AN ORGANIZATION AND ACROSS BORDERS – USING THE EXAMPLE OF IKEA
Authors: Emilie Martens (19860203) Tobias Mauelshagen (19810623) Course: IBO 348 – VT 2007
Examiner and Tutor: Richard Nakamura
Växjö universitet Ekonomihögskolan 31st of May 2007
Nowadays, companies face many difficulties due to the much competitive environment they have to evolve in. Therefore, multinational ones, particularly dealing with customers and employees, as well as competitors worldwide, have to take all the tools available into consideration to be able to stay afloat, or, at best, to be successful. Culture can be one of those efficient tools that can be used to make sure that the company will gain competitive advantages on the long run. However, the development of a strategy based on cultural aspects is not that easy as culture is a very complex and hardly understandable phenomenon – no matter if it is national culture, or, as here in this thesis, corporate.1 Thus, as this thesis focus on the employee’s side, it is obvious to imagine that the more numerous the countries, in which IKEA as the focused company wants to be present, are, the harder it will be to deal with cultural aspects and then to be successful thanks to a correct understanding on every side.
How does a multinational company deal with culture within the company and across borders? This above research question is the base of our research process. It seems indeed to be interesting to focus on a company implemented all over the world to wonder then whether this company manages to deal with cultural differences when crossing borders IKEA as a multinational company is then an example that can be used to write such a thesis. On the one hand, it is a company which deeply plays with its image and culture and broadcast a particular corporate culture based on Swedish roots. On the other hand, IKEA, since the 1970’s, has successfully tried to cross borders first in Europe and then in Asia facing then unexpected problems among the employees, for instance.
Schein E.H. 2004
As culture is not a notion that implies easily calculation and numbers, it seems natural to use meetings and interviews to lead the research. To feel the culture and to understand its process, a direct access into the Swedish company has to be part of the method used for this thesis. Otherwise, the thesis would be only based on secondary data which should be avoided in order to ensure reliability and validity. The theoretical framework for this thesis will contain the ideas and theories of researchers like E.H.Schein and R.Daft with the main focus on organizations, culture building and leadership as well as Jackson&Carter with their view on semiotics. Furthermore, regarding the transmission of cultural aspects, the ideas of “The Three Faces of Leadership” from Hatch and Kostera will also be taken into consideration. Furthermore many researchers in the past noticed that culture is more a source of conflict and complex outcome and situations rather than a mean to gather employees, people in general2. The results of this thesis are that IKEA, in spite of its so called unique global culture is not totally successful in dealing with this complex notion of culture especially among employees across borders. Indeed, IKEA’s managers tend to forget to take the many particularities of national and regional cultures into consideration, they deal with everywhere in the world. Although it came out that in many countries which are culturally close to Sweden the leader and managers efficiently transmit the core beliefs and values to the employees.
The thesis is done. The last ten weeks have been very tough, full of work and selforganizing. It was a very interesting time and a great completion of...