IKEA: A Non-Profit?

Yes, my title is assembled correctly. For Paper 2, I have decided to discuss the ethics surrounding Ikea’s classification as a non-profit organization. During a lecture last week, Michael Johnson Cramer mentioned that Ikea was a non-profit. I thought he misspoke but upon further googling and a conversation with him, it turns out that it’s true. Ikea is owned by the largest foundation in the world – Stichting INGKA Foundation! The foundation’s mission is to further “innovation in the field of architectural and interior design.” However, the foundation does very little in terms of actual donations and charitable acts.

Want to know more? Watch this 2-minute video explaining how this works HERE.

(You can embed Youtube right into posts).

To find a resource for my paper I used World Cat. I began by searching “ethics” and “Ikea.” Nothing relevant came up so I expanded my search to “ethics” and “tax.” The first document to come up was titled The Ethics of Tax Evasion: Perspectives in Theory and Practice. 

The resource is an eBook that is available for download through Bucknell. The article discusses the ethics of tax evasion from a multitude of perspectives – everything from gender, to country, to religion. I think it will provide good insight for me, particularly because Ikea is a Dutch company, operating with different laws than in the U.S.


10 responses to “IKEA: A Non-Profit?

  1. Sounds like you did a total 180 – and I like it! I, too, was unaware that IKEA was a non-profit organization because based on its relatively inexpensive, eccentric product offerings, it translates as an ordinary private business. I am interested to learn more about the disparities between what IKEA says it does in terms of social responsibility and the actual ethical value of its behaviors.


    • I’m surprised that IKEA does not face more scrutiny for this. We often look at IKEA as an example of a great company, but are they really? I don’t have enough background on the issue to make a proper judgement, but the non-profit distinction initially strikes me as an unfair advantage.


  2. Yes, that surprised me as well. Part of me is a little skeptical that the company is structured as a non-profit to avoid taxes. That said they make some great looking and inexpensive furniture. I’m interested to hear what you find!


    • Is it unethical of IKEA to structure themselves as a non-profit to avoid taxes? That is a difficult question to answer. But Ian, you make a good point in that IKEA does make good products that consumers like. Will consumers boycott IKEA because of their status as a non-profit? I don’t know.


  3. I was completely unaware that IKEA was a non-profit as well and I am shocked to hear it. I also think that it is interesting how despite being a non-profit they do not do much in terms of donations and charity. I think that it will be very interesting to see how you apply their foundation goal of “innovation in the field of architectural and interior design” to determine the benefits of the organization and who (or what) they are trying to benefit exactly.


  4. I am with everyone else. It makes no sense that they are a non-profit when they are clearly a successful business that makes profits. This raises the issue of international accounting and business practices. If IKEA is incorporated in another country, how can their business organization in the US be challenged?


  5. This is news to me about Ikea. I did some sustainability consulting for Ikea through a job that I had in China and it was interesting to see how much they did for the surrounding community in Shanghai including dating services for the elderly held in their bigger locations. Ikea posed itself as a community hub rather than just a shopping store.


  6. This sounds super interesting! It seems like you’re going to have a great paper. Ikea as a non-profit is nothing like I would have ever imagined so I think this will be really cool!


  7. I agree with everyone else who commented in that I had no idea IKEA considers itself to be a non-profit. I feel like this is something that people should have been aware of and IKEA should be scrutinized more for it. I think you have an interesting topic to write about!


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