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The Translation of Core Values in a Multinational Organisation: H&M in Shanghai - A Case Study
Umeå University, Faculty of Social Sciences, Umeå School of Business and Economics (USBE), Business Administration.
Umeå University, Faculty of Social Sciences, Umeå School of Business and Economics (USBE), Business Administration.
2013 (English)Independent thesis Advanced level (professional degree), 20 credits / 30 HE creditsStudent thesis
Abstract [en]

The thesis addresses the translation process of organisational core values. Core values can be seen as the guiding principles that reveal how the organisation conducts its business. These are often written down as a part of the company’s philosophy and tend to be explicitly articulated to all their entities and functions throughout their organisation. By doing so, the organisation wish to benchmark certain behaviour among their employees. In this thesis, the purpose is to explore how the employees in a subsidiary translate and understand the core values of their Swedish employer. Our aim is to investigate what happens with the meaning of the core values when translated by the employees, as well as to see how these values are visible in the employees day-to-day actions.

In this study, a qualitative approach have been used and a case study has been conducted in one of H&M’s subsidiaries. Through 12 semi-structured interviews with employees with different roles in the organisation we have been able to create further understanding of the phenomenon of core value translation in a Chinese setting. H&M is a large, multinational retail company with presence in 49 countries all over the world. This case study can serve the purpose guide managers wanting to understand how their Chinese colleagues accept and interpret their strategies, as more and more Swedish companies are expanding to China.

The nature of the study is of abductive character, where we have used the ‘systematic combining’ approach. This enabled us to incorporate new theories and data throughout the research process to facilitate our understanding of our findings. The theoretical background has thus served as base for our understanding and have been constantly reviewed and revised during the research process.

Our conclusion from this study is that the translation of the core values relies on the institutionalised organisational procedures and processes set in place. What supported the translation process were mainly the daily conversations with fellow colleagues and repeated procedures, such as meetings and interaction between positions. We also found that those values that had a clear practical usage, tended to be easier for the employees to translate into own actions. Our main finding is however, that the employees translated the core values into a guiding tool that supported and joined the workforce in their daily activities. All parts of the value ‘package’ had been re-contextualised to fit the employees in their local context and were visible in their actions in various ways, but with the common purpose to guide.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
2013. , 86 p.
Keyword [en]
Core values, translation
National Category
Business Administration
URN: urn:nbn:se:umu:diva-79073OAI: diva2:639147
External cooperation
Educational program
International Business Program
Social and Behavioural Science, Law
Available from: 2013-08-06 Created: 2013-08-06 Last updated: 2013-08-06Bibliographically approved

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