Culture, Context and Change
One of our reasons for choosing the furniture industry is that it is a Scandinavian strength. Another reason is that it satisfies one of our criteria in being an old industry, local in origin and therefore likely to reveal differences between the countries. It did in fact reveal differences, but not in the sense that we had anticipated. The differences that we found were in furniture style, rather than in management style. Finally, the furniture industry represents a nice contrast to some of the big unit size or volume industries like shipyards and breweries, and it gives us a chance of presenting medium sized companies that are the most common in the industry structure of Norway and Denmark. In this chapter you will meet three companies that we consider among the best examples of Scandinavian management. The three companies are different in product markets, that is they specialize in different segments, but they have a similar management philosophy and they each excel in their speciality. The first, the Danish company Fritz Hansen, excels in sophisticated design; the second, Ekornes of Norway, excels in its marketing concept; the third, Swedwood, a supplier to IKEA, excels in lean management and costefficient production. We can therefore show interesting linkages between producer and the retail business, between producer and massive production outsourcing, and between producer and designers. In terms of segments, the industry may be divided into: G G G high end design products; standard for retail; and cash-and-carry. Our three companies are found...
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