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The IKEA Edge: Building Global Growth and Social Good at the World's Most Iconic Home Store

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Praise for The IKEA Edge

“A very good book from a talented business leader [that links] values, culture, and the achievement of business and social objectives together. I have read it now three times and learned something from every passage.”
—Michael Spence, recipient of the Nobel Memorial Prize in Economic Sciences, 2001

“With Anders Dahlvig’s recommendations, we could solve many of the world’s problems by persuading the big multinationals to change their Memorandum and Articles of Association. Big business working in the interests of humanity would be a powerful tool.”
—Gordon Roddick, cofounder of The Body Shop

“The IKEA Edge is a fascinating case study of an entrepreneurial company’s growth to maturity. Anders Dahlvig is incisive and surprisingly straightforward in sharing the IKEA story. As a fourth-generation family business owner, I recognize the inherent paradox of building a ‘good,’ value-driven company and managing for profit. Anders Dahlvig proves it can be done.”
—Antonia Axson Johnson, Chairperson, Axel Johnson AB

About the Book:

With Anders Dahlvig at the helm from 1999 to 2009, the furniture giant IKEA averaged 11 percent yearly sales growth and annual operating profits in excess of 10 percent. The company hired more than 70,000 new employees and opened new stores around the world—all while maintaining its reputation as one of the world’s best corporate citizens.

In The IKEA Edge, Dahlvig tells the story of how IKEA matured from an entrepreneurial startup to a leader in the furniture industry. He recounts his 26-year career at the company and what he learned along the way. In his rise from store manager to president, Dahlvig developed the unique vision he relied upon to lead IKEA through good times and bad—by combining traditional business goals like profit and growth with the progressive interests of social responsibility and environmental stewardship. Dahlvig proves that these objectives, which are usually viewed as polar opposites, can actually work wonders together.

The IKEA Edge serves as an expansive case study for “doing good business while being a good business.” Dahlvig clearly lays out the cornerstones that support IKEA: a vision of social responsibility; market leadership with a balanced global portfolio; differentiation through control of the value chain; and building for the long term—four principles that can be applied in any business, in any industry. social and business agenda—and it continues to grow, even during the worst global recession in history. In a time when the public’s trust of business has hit bottom, such an approach to business is more critical than ever.

A combination of personal memoir, call to action, and strategic vision, The IKEA Edge provides the inspiration and information you need to develop a social-good/good-business agenda for your own company. Public trust, brand recognition, customer loyalty, and a world-class reputation will soon follow.

209 pages, Kindle Edition

First published November 13, 2011

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5 stars
22 (19%)
4 stars
33 (29%)
3 stars
41 (36%)
2 stars
14 (12%)
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1 (<1%)
Displaying 1 - 15 of 15 reviews
Profile Image for Jacek Bartczak.
195 reviews58 followers
June 29, 2020
I divided that book for 3 parts:

- CSR - how IKEA does the right things for the world

- Specifics of retail - it is rather wide and thin

- Values, leadership, vision - those kinds of buzzwords

The 2nd part is my favorite one. IMO entire book is sometimes too utopian. I'm not sure whether socially responsible companies will ultimately win 
Profile Image for Choonghwan.
120 reviews6 followers
July 30, 2015

There are only a small number of retail firms which are successful at both home and abroad: Yes to Ikea and H&M; No to Wal-Mart and Tesco. Unlike leading global manufactures like Apple and Samsung who can innovate in one country and sell to every country, retailers belong to service industry which needs to face different biz environment and customers’ tastes whenever they enter new one.

Only those companies, which are focused enough to manage complexity of retailing and have enough power to control its value-chain, can thrive on a global scale. Ikea possesses the two virtues: it is a highly specialized home furnishing firm with long-term time horizon supported by the long-serving founder; it designs, partly produces and delivers its own merchandise, owns and develops its property.

This book offers valuable ideas about what can and cannot be globalised, and how to achieve it in a successful manner.
Profile Image for Niels Willemsen.
7 reviews1 follower
August 4, 2014
Must read for all BBA/MBA students. It gave me nice insights into Ikea. Lectures by Dahlvig related to this book can be found on YouTube. I sometimes use examples from the book and part of the lectures in my classes.
8 reviews
September 1, 2018
It was interesting to see things from an IKEA insider. Gave some insight to the longevity and success of IKEA as a company. Some of the items he preached are unique to the retail and furniture industry though. Still there are some take aways
Profile Image for Isha Rathod.
10 reviews
June 28, 2019
This is an excellent book to read about how this retail chain grew while keeping its values and traditions. The book also depicts tactics that worked well for IKEA and few which did not work well, how this organisation grew and supported for society as well
February 11, 2017
Not a history of IKEA, but uses the company as an example of good corporate citizenship. Four important prerequisites of a good retail business: 1) a vision with a social ambition combined with a strong value base, 2) a business model wherein the product range and price are the main differentiators between you and the competition. 3) market leadership and a balanced global portfolio of markets that defines the company's short term and long term growth ambitions, 4) company control by a committed owner. There are at least four good reasons to promote diversity: 1) customer focus, 2) decision making, 3) motivation, 4) recruitment. Ikea's superior value proposition is due to five factors: 1) design, function and quality at low prices, 2) unique Scandinavian design, 3) inspiration, ideas and complete solutions, 4) everything in one place, 5) a 'day out' shopping experience. The preferred way of reaching a good balance between price competitiveness, profitability and an attractive product offer is to control the entire value chain to achieve unique products and prices and establish a product range big enough to be perceived as a specialist in your given line of business. Four things to keep him motivated: 1) greater meaning to what I do, 2) feel recognised for things I do (the greatest motivator for mankind), 3) trust and a sense of togetherness with the people I work with, 4) feel that I develop and learn from what I am doing. Set challenging goals, the best people will respond. Setting soft goals is just requiring people to do their jobs.
This entire review has been hidden because of spoilers.
Profile Image for Alja.
95 reviews32 followers
March 24, 2019
The book, written by former Ikea CEO that has been with the company for 26 years, is a glimpse into three decades of Ikea's leadership, management, and overall vision. It offers an interesting non-US management perspective that focuses on social impact and long-term business goals instead of short-sighted quick wins that maximize profit for shareholders without regard the business has on the environment and local communities. The message that you can run a successful global business while still doing good is a valuable contribution, even though the book builds its case on just one company in the retail industry.

The main criticism I have is that the books sometimes comes off as slightly idealistic, probably because the author often stays on the surface level, hiding a lot of the nitty-gritty everyday complexities from the reader. The managerial style described in the book is unmistakably Swedish, and the applicability of the presented advice to other companies (both in ownership structure and industry) is questionable. Still, it was refreshing to read a management book from a different cultural context, and I'm giving it a high rating because its core message of doing good as a business and defining growth as maximizing social impact should become the norm across industries.
10 reviews2 followers
October 12, 2018

Very rare to see that the business organization can walk the talk about being a good business that also contribute greatly to the society. Ikea can inspire so many company Execs to believe that it can be done.
Profile Image for Daniel Oon Yong Lin.
80 reviews10 followers
February 18, 2013
Not a read-as-you go book, the author makes it goes the direction of how Ikea operations and how its being affected and affect others. Very executive-technical
Profile Image for Nguyen Truc.
13 reviews2 followers
August 5, 2015
Different perspective into this giant home furniture retailer/manufacturer.
Profile Image for Leah.
53 reviews1 follower
January 4, 2021
Less about leadership and more a list of stats to support his success as CEO.
Displaying 1 - 15 of 15 reviews

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