Describe and discuss the ethical challenges faced by IKEA when outsourcing their production to emerging markets

Cross-cultural communication and negotiations

1. Critical incident analysis (minimum 700 words)

Write an analysis of 1) what caused the problems in the following critical incident, and 2) how the problem might have been avoided. Use cross-cultural terminology from the course curriculum (based on the theories/terminology used by Richard Gesteland, Edward T. Hall etc.) to support your analysis. Structure your essay appropriately, and remember not to stereotype!

Critical incident

Janice Tani is a successful business executive in her mid-thirties. Two years previously she was appointed as Chief Executive of Marketing at Imaging Inc., a producer of computer graphics programmes. The president of the company chose Janice to head a team to negotiate an important deal with a Japanese customer. The reasons for his choice were 1) Janice was excellent at her job, 2) she had already successfully negotiated two important contracts for Imaging Inc. on the domestic market, and 3) being a Japanese American she was proficient in the Japanese language.

Janice selected three of the most promising members in her department to accompany her to Japan – all three were top-qualified males, in their late twenties, all with impressive records. The negotiation team left for Kobe in Japan where they were to meet Mr. Yamamoto, the president of a company interested in placing a substantial order with Imaging Inc. However, before the deal was closed the customer had indicated that a number of significant changes would have to be made to the American company’s standard products.

The day of the negotiation arrived. As her team was being introduced, Janice noticed a surprised look flicker across Mr. Yamamoto’s face. After Janice had presented the merits of her company’s products in Japanese, she asked Mr. Yamamoto what he thought. He responded by saying that he needed to discuss some details with the head of her department. Janice replied that she’d be pleased to answer any questions he might have. Smiling, Mr. Yamamoto complimented Janice on the excellence of her presentation, but insisted that he wanted to talk things over with the person in charge. Janice, who was beginning to feel slightly frustrated, assured Yamamoto that she had the authority to speak on behalf of her company. Mr. Yamamoto, still smiling, asked Janice to arrange for a follow-up meeting with his assistant.


1. Write a persuasive business report on the benefits of using storytelling as a branding tool.

2. Explain how storytelling may be used as a tool for building company culture.

3. Give examples from your course syllabus of how to employ the four elements of storytelling in advertising.

4. How can you create a core story? Illustrate with examples from the course syllabus.

5. Give examples of raw material for storytelling.

6. Write an email to fellow students recommending them to participate in a course on storytelling as a branding tool.

Business ethics

1. CSR and working conditions.

Describe and discuss the ethical challenges faced by IKEA when outsourcing their production to emerging markets (as described in the Harvard case “IKEA’s global sourcing challenge – Indian rugs and child labor”). In your answer, focus particularly on the critical commercial decisions that can have serious implications for a company’s short-term profitability, as well as its long-term image and reputation.

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