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Ikea Harvard Case

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Fundada en 1943, IKEA es una corporación multinacional de origen sueco, dedicada a la venta minorista especializada en muebles y objetos para el hogar más grande del mundo con presencia en más de 17 países . La visión de esta empresa se enfoca en “crear una mejor vida diaria para la mayoría de gente”, ofreciendo muebles y accesorios para el hogar de buena calidad y diseño, a un costo que mucha gente los puede comprar. Uno de los principios más arraigados en la compañía es el desarrollo de relaciones fuertes, de soporte mutuo y de larga duración entre IKEA y sus proveedores.

Durante los años 80´s las autoridades Danesas establecieron limites máximos de emisión de Formaldehido, un gas producto de los pegamentos utilizados en la fabricación de muebles, encontrando que IKEA excedía estos limites por lo cual fue multada y la empresa se enfrentó a una disminución del 20% de sus ventas debido a la mala publicidad. Este hecho llamó la atención de la compañía acerca de los asuntos ambientales por lo cual IKEA comenzó a desarrollar planes de conservación ambiental de la mano de instituciones como Greenpace y World Wide Fund for Nature.

En Mayo de 1995 cuando la compañía aún continuaba fortaleciendo sus planes de responsabilidad ambiental se encontraba frente a un nuevo reto: La demostración del uso de mano de obra infantil por parte de algunos de sus proveedores de tapetes en la India. Esta situación enfrentaba a Marianne Barner, gerente del área de negocios de tapetes de IKEA, a la difícil decisión de aceptar la invitación a un programa de televisión alemán, donde se discutiría un cortometraje acerca de Rangan Exports, uno de los mayores proveedores de tapetes de IKEA, donde se mostraban niños trabajando y al cuál la compañía no había tenido acceso completo. De igual forma Barner debía decidir cuál sería el manejo que le daría al hecho de que Rangan Exports había incumplido el contrato donde se comprometían a no utilizar mano de obra infantil en la elaboración de los tapetes so pena de la terminación del mismo .

¿Como debe responder Barner a la invitación de un representante de IKEA al programa?

Barner ha sido invitada a un programa de televisión donde se discutirá un reportaje realizado por un reconocido productor alemán para demostrar la utilización de mano de obra infantil en Rangan Exports uno de los proveedores más grandes de tapetes para IKEA. Por la actitud del productor de no dejar ver en su totalidad el reportaje a IKEA antes del programa, se infiere una posición agresiva por parte del programa alemán y es muy probable que la discusión este más enfocada a buscar culpables entre IKEA y Rangan Exports que a discutir de manera constructiva el tema del trabajo infantil. Ante esta situación Barner tiene la posibilidad de asistir al programa y enfrentarse a una acusación directa o declinar la invitación, esperar la presentación del documental y en ese caso asumir una de dos actitudes: defenderse de manera indirecta o guardar silencio acerca del tema.

Según “Managing a Brand crisis” , no es raro que las organizaciones enfrenten períodos de crisis causadas por escándalos de cualquier naturaleza y que traen como consecuencias: disminución en las ventas, pérdida de la efectividad en el mercadeo de los productos y mayor sensibilidad al mercadeo de la competencia por parte de los consumidores. En estas situaciones Kotler y Keller recomiendan enfocarse en proteger la credibilidad y la confianza que los consumidores han depositado en la marca. ¿Pero de qué manera lograr esto? La recomendación hace énfasis en responder de manera rápida el requerimiento ya que entre más tiempo se tome la compañía en responder hay más tiempo para que el consumidor se forme una idea negativa y quizás equivocada. En segundo lugar entre más sincera sea la respuesta por parte de la compañía reconociendo la situación y el compromiso de arreglarla, hay menos probabilidad de que los consumidores se formen una mala idea acerca de la situación.

De esta manera y basados en lo anterior, el no asistir al programa y guardar silencio no parece ser un opción muy acertada. Barner podría no asistir al programa y diseñar un plan de mercadeo enfocado en mostrar su compromiso con la protección del medio ambiente y la erradicación del trabajo infantil. De otra manera considero que la reacción más acertada sea asistir al programa y convertir el posible ataque en una oportunidad para mostrar el trabajo de investigación y las políticas que ha tomado IKEA en contra del trabajo infantil desde hace más de un año, las cuales sin duda alguna están defendiendo la misma posición que el programa frente al problema. Con esta finalidad Barner puede informar al público de sus recientes visitas a los proveedores, donde constató la presencia de trabajo infantil, por lo cual IKEA inició acercamientos con Swedish Save the Children´s y se unió a la fundación Rugmark para dar inicio a la lucha contra este flagelo.

¿Qué acciones debe tomar IKEA en manos de Braner para manejar el contrato con Rangan Exports?

En este caso, Marianne Barner, enfrenta un problema ético al tener que decidir perpetuar un contrato con uno de sus proveedores más grandes, que le ofrece tapetes hechos a mano a bajos precios a cambio de basar su producción en la utilización de mano de obra infantil. Si nos apoyamos en los estándares de la conducta ética en la administración de suministros del Institute for Supply Management, Barner debería evitar la ocurrencia de conductas poco éticas y debería realizar sus actividades de acuerdo con las leyes y costumbres del país de acción . Teniendo en cuenta que IKEA se ha comprometido en la lucha contra el trabajo infantil, se considera poco ético mantener un proveedor que utiliza niños para lograr una producción de bajo costo. Sin embargo se debe tener en cuenta que ésta conducta para muchos países inaceptable, parece hacer parte de la cultura de la India lo cual hace muy difícil manejar esta situación. Por estas razones y siguiendo uno de los valores de la organización como es el mantener relaciones duraderas y de largo plazo con sus proveedores , apoyándolos para mejorar su desempeño, Braner puede suspender el contrato con Rangan de manera temporal mientras este proveedor se une a la fundación Rugmark e IKEA le brinda acompañamiento y apoyo en las actividades necesarias para suspender la utilización de mano de obra infantil en su producción. Una vez Rangan cumpla con estas exigencias podría reanudar su contrato con IKEA.

En éstos escenarios, las organizaciones pueden estar tentadas a ignorar el comportamiento ético de sus proveedores, pero es recomendable que las compañías establezcan estándares claros a lo largo de su cadena de suministro para garantizar el comportamiento ético esperado por la sociedad donde se desarrollan .

¿Qué estrategia a largo plazo sugeriría a Braner con respecto a la continuidad de las operaciones de IKEA en India? Debería continuar o debería retirarse?

Una opción que tiene IKEA es abandonar sus proveedores en la India con lo cual terminarían sus dificultades con los temas de trabajo infantil y los probables costos en ventas, multas y prensa negativa que ya han experimentado anteriormente con los temas de responsabilidad ambiental. En éste caso se podría realizar un estudio de calificación de factores para comparar los beneficios de permanecer en la India vs encontrar nuevos proveedores en otros lugares como Asia, África o América Latina.

De otra manera y siguiendo el concepto de IKEA: “Hacerlo de una manera diferente”, donde la compañía se está preguntando constantemente si existe una manera de mejorar la vida diaria de la mayoría de las personas , una conducta más consistente con su esquema de valores sería mantener sus operaciones en la India y buscar la manera de hacerle frente al problema de trabajo infantil.

A largo plazo IKEA debería continuar con sus visitas no anunciadas a sus proveedores y establecer alianzas estratégicas con organizaciones mundiales como la Unicef o Save the children para manejar adecuadamente un problema que esta estrechamente asociado a un fenómeno socioeconómico de la India, legitimizado por la débil legislación con relación a este tema . Haciendo parte de la estrategia de responsabilidad social, IKEA puede diseñar e implementar planes de protección para la infancia y destinar algunos fondos para patrocinar la educación de niños con escasos recursos. Estas estrategias le permitirán a la compañía mantener y reforzar sus relaciones con los proveedores en la India, lo cual ha sido política de la empresa desde su fundación, así mismo le permitirán a IKEA seguir aprovechando los suministros de bajo costo que obtiene de estos proveedores y como valor agregado también podrá fortalecer su imagen de confiabilidad y calidad ante sus clientes.

Bibliografía
IKEA´s Global Sourcing Challenge: Indian Rugs and Child Labor, 9-906-414 (14 de November de 2006).
Kotler, K. K. (2012). Managing a brand crisis. En K. P. Kevin, Marketing Management (pág. 316). Upper Saddle River, New Jersey, United States of America: Pearson.
Heizer, R. B. (2008). Ethics and Sustainable supply chain management. En R. B. Jay, Operations Mangement (pág. 438). Upper Saddle River, New Jersey: Pearson.
Heizer, J. (2014). Ethics within the supply chain. En H. Jay, Operations Mangement (pág. 448). Upper Saddle River, New Jersey: Pearson.
Heizer, J. (2014). Methods of evaluating location alternatives. En J. Heizer, Operations Management (pág. 333). Upper Saddle River: Pearson.
IKEA. (2014). Obtenido de www.ikea.com

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