Management across culture


Cultural-Based Challenge

IKEA faced a significant problem regarding culture, especially after the expansion of the flat-pack empire. In 1990, the firm entered the market of the United States with a significant blow as the vases being sold by the organization were numerous. After a while, the employees who were located at the Swedish retailer realized that the Americans were buying the vessels to drink from but not to use them for flowers for which the vases were initially made. The reason why the main purpose of the jars was overlooked is attributed to the size of the vases produced by Ikea. The United States consumers found the glasses too small and hence used them for drinking; this was the first cultural misstep in the United States. More so, the mattresses the Ikea offered were measured in centimeters while the Americans preferred the queen and the king sizes. The mattresses were also too hard as per the expectations and the culture of the Americans. The mistake was corrected, but the consequences are still felt by the company to date. Also, there is a tension between the Swedish retailer and the outposts which are far-flung (Milne, 2013). IKEA is a large organization that should have integrated the culture of the Americans in the process of production to maximize the sales but subsequently made a cultural misstep.

Low Stability Ratings and Lightweight Constructions

The market of the United States of America has the highest recall from IKEA according to the country’s history. The firm’s furniture has caused up to six deaths since the invasion of the American market. In 1989, a girl who was twenty years old died at Mt. Vernon, Virginia. The death of the child resulted from an un-anchored 4-drawer chest that fell over her, and the girl was pinned against the footboard. In 2014, two children died within four months. The cause of the death was traced to the IKEA’s furniture, which raised a serious matter, and the company started offering the anchoring kits without charging any payments. The enterprise also prompted to recall all the dressers and chests which were single three-plus all over America. The company also decided to offer a partial or full refund to the customers during the recall of the products (Brownlee, 2016).

IKEA Uses Forced Labor in the United States

IKEA is allegedly reported over the use of forced labor in the United States as it is a crime as per the American constitution. The company was reported to the Customs Department in the United States for producing duvets as a result of forced labor.  The company has been importing the covers of the duvets from Turkmenistan. The cotton importation from Turkmenistan was revealed by the OCCRP an organization that works in collaboration with the IKEA Company. The cotton campaign accused IKEA of forced labor exploitation. The Alternative Turkmenistan News and the International Labor Rights Forum are the two members of the Cotton Campaign, which indicates that cotton in Turkmenistan is grown and harvested through forced labor. When the United States allows the importation of such products through the ports, the country would hence indirectly support the forced labor (OCCRP, 2016). The United States government recognizes forced labor as a crime, and therefore the Swedish furniture retailer commits a crime by buying the products.


Adapting to the Culture of the American Consumers

IKEA requires sustainable skills in the management of cultural diversity, particularly in the United States to regain the brand name and prevail in the market. Despite the challenges, the organization must prove to the American consumers that it is strategically positioned by learning the culture and adapting sustainably to the new culture. It should also adopt the cultural adaptation theory whereby, the company’s employees should maintain and reciprocate relatively stable relations with the new environment (Kim, 2017). Communication is a fundamental driver to adapt to modern culture (Kim 2005, p. 375). Therefore, the establishment of a stable and reliable connection between IKEA and the American Consumers will increase the speed of adapting to the culture (Goodwin, 2015).

Improving Stability of Furniture and Lightweight Constructions

The furniture construction is efficiently used by the carpenters as its sustainability in saving the construction materials. The use of less material also reduces embodied energy. The higher energy on the other hand is attributed to more massive construction and improves the cooling and heating of the building (Kunstilinie, 2017). IKEA requires to adopt a sustainable design for the drawers to reduce more deaths. More so, the furniture with improved stability leads to fewer injuries and fatality mainly from tipping over. Compliance with the Consumer Product Safety Act in the United States is a principal way through which IKEA will test the stability of the chests and drawers to prevent accidents. The standards efficiently restrain any tip-over from the furniture (SGS, 2016). Therefore, the adoption of sustainable design and compliance with the set rules in America is necessary for IKEA.

Compliance with Forced Labor Laws in the United States

The United States of America prohibits importation of the products which are specifically produced or mined through both convicted and forced labor (Bell, 2016). Since forced labor is a crime in American Constitution, any related products should not be brought into the American land whatsoever (Claire, 2017). There is a great need for IKEA to comply with the law to thrive in the American market.

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  1. Bell, S. L. 2016. The US prohibits imports made with forced labor: the new law is a force to be reckoned with International Trade Alert. [Online] Available at: [Accessed 9 October 2017].
  2. Brownlee, J. 2016. The 5 Biggest Furniture RecallsIn U.S History( And How Ikea Compares). [Online] Available at: [Accessed 9 October 2017].
  3. Claire, 2017. Understanding the US Ban On Importing Forced Labor Goods. [Online]
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  5. Kim, Y. Y. 2005. Adapting to a New Culture: An Integrative Communication Theory. In Theorizing about Intercultural Communication, p. 375.
  6. Kim, Y. Y., 2017. Cultural Adaptation Theory. [Online] Available at: http;// [Accessed 9 October 2017].
  7. Kunstilinie, D. 2017. Lightweight Constructions. [Online] Available at: [Accessed 9 October 2017].
  8. Milne, R. 2013. Ikea faces a cultural challenge as the flat-pack empire expands. [Online]
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  9. OCCRP, 2016. IKEA’s Alleged Use of Forced Labor Reported to US Authorities. [Online]
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  10. SGS, 2016. Improved Storage Furniture Stability Helps Prevent Injuries and Fatalities. [Online]
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