Ben Jerry

Topics: Normative, Social responsibility, Corporate social responsibility Pages: 71 (10299 words) Published: September 9, 2013
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Leadership, social responsibility & organizational identity: The case of the acquisition of Ben & Jerry’s by Unilever 1295 Abstract: Relatively small, entrepreneurial sized firms with a “Socially Responsible Organizational Identity” are being acquired by large multinationals at a growing pace. Recent deals include the purchase of the Body Shop by L’Oreal, Tom’s of Maine by ColgatePalmolive, Stonyfield Farm by Groupe Danone, and Ben & Jerry’s by Unilever. We postulate that a Socially Responsible Organizational Identity is a valuable, rare and tacit resource (Barney, 1986; 1991) which multinationals want to capture through M&A. This can create a paradox where a large acquirer will tend to impose its way of doing things on the firm it is acquiring, but in so doing potentially destroy the target’s Socially Responsible Organizational Identity—which was part of its motivation for acquisition in the first place! Based on a longitudinal case study of the acquisition of Ben & Jerry’s by Unilever, this paper examines how a firm’s organizational identity is affected by an acquisition. This framing encompasses, in this case, shifts in leadership discourse as the company transitioned from its founding era to professional management through to its acquisition, subsequent integration into a parent company, and the aftermath. This longitudinal frame helps to uncover the changing nature and drivers of a firm’s SROI through a specific focus on how its leaders presented its mission and values (e.g., projected identity) to the workforce and to the public. Key findings reveal that while Ben & Jerry’s Projected Identity endures over time and through the Unilever acquisition in that the three part mission remains a pillar of the firm’s identity, what does change is the way various leaders interpret and make their own this three part mission, thus supporting the idea that organizational identity can display both stability and change (Chreim, 2000). Secondly, our findings reveal that Ben & Jerry’s Projected Identity does not become increasingly instrumental and economic (and less normative) as predicted by Albert & Whetten (1985) of the evolution of normative organizations overtime. Finally, we find that the change over from the Founders to professional management (preacquisition) was a more significant turning point than the acquisition itself in terms of the evolution of Ben & Jerry’s Projected Identity.

Key words: Leadership, corporate social responsibility, mergers & acquisitions Leadership, social responsibility, and organizational identity: The case of the acquisition of Ben & Jerry’s by Unilever

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Relatively small, entrepreneurial firms with a “Socially Responsible Organizational Identity” (e.g., SROI, XXX, 2010) are being acquired by large multinationals at a growing pace. Recent deals include the purchase of the Body Shop by L’Oreal, Tom’s of Maine by Colgate-Palmolive, Stonyfield Farm by Groupe Danone, confectioner Green & Black’s by Cadbury Schweppes, and Ben & Jerry’s by Unilever, among others. We postulate that a firm with an SROI1 possesses intangible value which multinationals want to capture through M&A. This can create a paradox where a large acquirer tends to impose its way of doing things on the firm it is acquiring, but in so doing destroys facets of the target’s socially responsible identity—which was part of its motivation for acquisition in the first place! Based on a longitudinal case study of the acquisition of Ben & Jerry’s by Unilever, this paper examines how a firm’s organizational identity is affected by an acquisition. This framing encompasses, in this case, shifts in leadership discourse as the company transitioned from its founding era to professional management through to its acquisition, subsequent integration into a parent company, and the aftermath. This longitudinal frame helps to uncover the changing nature and drivers of a firm’s SROI through a...

References: Barney, Jay, B. (1986), Strategic Factor Markets: Expectations, Luck and Business Strategy, Management Science, 32:10, 1231-1242.
  Barney, Jay, B
 
Waddock, Sandra (2008), Of Mice and Elephants, California Management Review, 5 :1, 103108
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