An Analysis Of IKEA’s Organizational Culture From The Perspective Of Symbolic Frame

Company Background

Organisations are some of the most complicated entities that are with huge number of capabilities, objectives, motivations, personalities and limitations (Skelcher and Smith 2015). It is very important to assess each and every aspects of an organisation in order to have a good understanding of it. As the growing impact of global warming on the planet earth, most of the companies has now begin to seek more ways for providing products and services.

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In this report I shall be examining and evaluating the strengths and weaknesses of the organisation in which I work- IKEA on the basis of one of the elements of the Four Frame Model, especially the Symbolic Frame. It has critically analysed different theories in order to provide a clear understanding of its organisational culture. Using these theories, this report has successfully provided a relevant and in-depth understanding of how this company prolongs its organisations in today’s business dynamic world.

2. Discussion 

2.1 Company Background

IKEA was founded by Ingvar Kamprad, a Swedish Entrepreneur in the year 1943 (Vahlne and Jonsson 2017). It is one of the well-known multinational furniture retailing company which sells the ready to assemble types of furniture as well as home accessories and appliances. At present IKEA is been operating in more than 41 different countries all around the work including Australia, North America, Europe, Southeast Asia and Middle East with over 30 franchised units and 300 stores (Garvey 2017). It sells inexpensive furniture all around the world and they are of Scandinavian design.

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2.2 The Four Frame Model

The Four Frame Model by Bolman and Deal is regarded to be a concept which divides up an organisation into four different frames namely- Structural frame, Human Resources Frame, Political Frame and Symbolic frame (Fruehauf, Al-khalifa and Coniker 2015). It helps in understanding the organisation much better. Each of these frames plays a very important part in the process of understanding the whole of a particular organisation. IKEA is effectively managing all these four organisational frames that are regarded to be the cornerstones for any organisation in its journey towards success.

2.3 The Symbolic or Cultural Frame

In this present ear, consumers are much more bothered on how, where and what the products are being made of than ever before. This has made it very important for the organisation to maintain their positive image and business cultures in order to keep their customers as well as to attract more customers towards their business. For getting an in-depth understanding of the organisational culture of IKEA as well as its symbolic frame, examining William Ouchis’s “The Z Organisation”, Peter Senge’s “The Fifth Discipline: A Shift of Mind”, and Edgar Schein’s “The Concept of Organisational Culture: Why Bother?”, one could understand how this organisation maintains an eco-friendly image of itself in front of the entire world.

The Four Frame Model

“The Z Organisation” presented by William Ouchi is the sequence of Theory X and Y by Douglas McGregor. This is also regarded as the Theory Z. It is elaborated on Theory X and Y while combining the Japanese and the American styles of management (Vikkelso 2015).  Both this styles are incompatible in nature. The Japanese style of management is collective in nature, while the American style of management is individualistic. Hence, the Theory Z helps in encouraging the organisations for focusing on the long term commitments of the employees with their organisations as well as their well-being in inside and outside of the organisations.

The very first assumptions of “Theory Z” is that individuals need to sense the support of the job security as well as facilitate for developing their potentials within the company (Dederichs 2018). Like, for example, IKEA Australia offers its employees education assistance who seeks for the managerial roles for them in the organisation (Hahn and Kim 2016). Through this, it is educating the workforce as well as helping them in discovering their own skills, talents and knowledge. Furthermore, the second assumption of “Theory Z” is that people cherish their family life, organisation and culture all at the same level and they give value to material gains. After understanding this assumption, IKEA has offered its employees with families with paid paternity and maternity leave. Due to this IKEA is widely considered to be one among the top 100 organisations for the working mothers as per the IKEA National Press Releases of 2007 (Morsing and Roepstorff 2015).

Also, the last assumption of “Theory Z” is that individuals would develop a sense of dedication along with self-discipline while discovering what the organisations means to them. Due to this reason, IKEA has launched its project called “People and Planet” in its organisation in order to ensure that its employees could feel that they are working for a company which care about the environment and their society. Therefore, every year, the employees of IKEA along with its consumers join the force together for working in the campaigns which help in raising money for the UNHCR (the refugee agency of UN), Save the Children and UNICEF. In this way, the consumers and the employees of IKEA are sensing the feeling of belonging to the organisation as they feel that their contribution are going for some really good causes.

Peter Senge’s “The Fifth Discipline: A Shift of Mind” has explained the important elements in the learning organisations such as mental models, personal mastery, team learning, systems thinking and building shared vision. This section would correlate building of shared vision, system thinking and team learning to the IKEA. Building shared vision refers to the blending of the aspirations of the employees with the goals of the company. The vision of IKEA is to create a better life for the people with whom it is associated with (Cosmo and Yang 2017).

The Symbolic or Cultural Frame

In the year 2000, IKEA has launched IWAY for providing the basic code of conduct for the suppliers in order to treat those 600,000 individuals who were working for directly supplying IKEA with the products and materials around the globe fairly. With the same, in order to make some social impacts on the communities, the IKEA foundation is helping in empowering the girls and women by providing them education, improved healthcare facilities and skills training so that they can have better opportunities in their future and earn living (Higa 2015). Along with these, IKEA foundation is also working with the Save the Children and UNICEF in fighting against the child labour in the nations like Pakistan and India.

Furthermore, team learning defines the potential of solving and learning problem in a group. The two elements of team learning are dialogue and discussion. In dialogue, people have a conversation for understanding the scenario with the different view-points. On the other hand, discussion refers to the process where the members of the team express their thoughts and opinions on the topic at the time of group meetings. IKEA makes use of the dialogue method of team learning in its working environment (Freeman et al. 2015).

Along with IKEA democracy and the laissez-faire management style employees are encouraged to have the dialogue with their co-workers and managers for participating and improving the working environment within the organisation. Apparently, the fifth discipline of this theory is system thinking which conveys the fact that the different aspects of an organisation have an interconnected relationship and this defines IKEA system thinking. This organisation provide its customers with cheap and stylish products and it always seek to look at the alternative ways for reducing the cost as well as reliable suppliers. The customers of IKEA have to accept the concept of the process of democratic design so that both the parties could save money at the same time.

IKEA defines the democratic design process in the way in which it provided its ready to assemble products so that its customers could assemble their own furniture by themselves (Bianchini, Arquilla and Krogh 2018). IKEA follows its philosophy of “We do our part, and you do yours” in its business so as to provide greater quality products and services at lower cost. With the same, the suppliers also play their part by the products in sustainable and ethical manner to this organisation. This is why IKEA has more than 80 numbers of auditors and independent 3rd party auditors for checking on the production of suppliers.

Thirdly, Edgar Schein’s “The Concept of Organisational Culture: Why Bother?” has defined the concept of organisational culture as one of the basic tactic assumptions regarding the way this world is and ought to be that group of people share and this determines their thoughts, feelings, their overt attitudes and behaviours and perceptions (Schein 2015). It means that the organisational culture is required to be general so as to ensure that people do not eliminate the factors which are the part of corporate culture. It is to note that there are a total of three levels of organisational culture and they are basic assumptions, values, espoused values and artefacts.

Assumptions and values are regarded to be the core of corporate culture. Here people unconsciously perform the roles and duties without even realising that it has become one of the major part of their beliefs and values. Based on this philosophy, IKEA has launched its sustainability strategy for helping in making a constructive and positive impact on the people as well as on the planet earth. It has more than 500,000 solar panels installed on its buildings all over the world in order to produce some renewable energy for the IKEA stores (Maidment 2015). This has led to the culture of give and take that makes its employees feel enthusiastic and proud for working in such a company. Moreover, the artefacts are the things which are visual of an organisation. Like, for example, the store visual of IKEA is regarded as the big blue building with a total of four yellow letters.

For providing an employee friendly working environments for its employees at the floors, the associated are needed to wear the polo shirt of IKEA along with trousers or jeans (as per their convenience). Such basic artefacts are helping this organisation to implicitly promote its logo. Furthermore, the espoused values refers to the very next level after the artefacts. In this, the people could discover the strategies, philosophies and goals of the organisation.

For example, the goal of IKEA is to promote their customers with the Scandinavian modern style furniture which will satisfy their pockets (Jamaludin, Firdaus and Subkiman 2018). This company is also concerned about the ones who live in the communities from where they receive the resources. This is why IKEA has taken part in many of the philanthropy projects like Clinton Health Access Initiative and UNICEF in order to help the children who are living in the poorest communities of the world to have a better future.

3. Conclusion

IKEA is one of the most successfully operating companies in this world at present. From the above analysis it is clear that IKEA is a green company and it has a social mission that aims at providing all its customers with stylish and innovative products and services. It want that its customers receive these products at lowest prices. Its vision is to create a better life for the people with whom it is associated with. This is why IKEA always seeks for the alternative methods in order to provide its customers with sustainable products, resources and workforce.

After analysing IKEA with the help of different management theories, I has been discovered that the company is following the triple bottom line- the three pillars of sustainability. These three pillars are environmental, economic and social sustainability. IKEA is successfully sustaining its workforce and is meeting its goals as it has a well governed and very clear organisational structure. It has been proved after analysing the three literature readings. IKEA can now be regarded as sustaining its social aspect because the organisation is focused more on governing the corporate structure as its long term objective and is also paying much attention to the safety and health of its workforce.

4. References:

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Cosmo, D.E. and Yang, K., 2017. A Further Strategic Move to Sustainability-A Case Study on IKEA. Journal of Strategic Innovation and Sustainability, 12(2), pp.39-47.

Dederichs, A., 2018. Der Kulturbegriff und internationale Zusammenarbeit in Unternehmen. In Kulturelle Differenzierung in Wirtschaftskooperationen (pp. 11-60).

Freeman, B., Potente, S., Rock, V. and McIver, J., 2015. Social media campaigns that make a difference: what can public health learn from the corporate sector and other social change marketers. Public Health Res Pract, 25(2), p.e2521517.

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Garvey, P., 2017. Consuming IKEA and Inspiration as Material Form. Design Anthropology: Object Cultures in Transition, p.101.

Hahn, Y. and Kim, D., 2016. Corporate Social Responsibility: A Comparison Analysis. The East Asian Journal of Business Management, 6(4), pp.13-17.

Higa, H., 2015. The Power of Soccer: A Promising Tool for Youth Empowerment A Case of Soccer-Based Health Program at El Nacional Public School in Ecuador.

Jamaludin, M., Firdaus, B.A.T. and Subkiman, A., 2018. The Influence of Scandinavian Furniture Design in the Development of Modern Rattan Furniture in Indonesia. Journal of Arts and Humanities, 7(3), pp.19-26.

Maidment, A., 2015. How big brands are using renewable energy to their advantage. Renewable Energy Focus, 16(4), pp.84-86.

Morsing, M. and Roepstorff, A., 2015. CSR as corporate political activity: Observations on IKEA’s CSR identity–image dynamics. Journal of Business Ethics, 128(2), pp.395-409.

Schein, E., 2015. Taking Culture Seriously in Organization Development. Practicing Organization Development: Leading Transformation and Change, pp.233-244.

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