Sainsbury's in Egypt: the strange case of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde?


El-Amir A & Burt S (2008) Sainsbury's in Egypt: the strange case of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde?. International Journal of Retail and Distribution Management, 36 (4), pp. 300-322.

Purpose – First, to explore the role of institutional theory constructs in a case of international retail divestment. Second, to examine the potential of constructed metaphors as a means of analyzing and communicating the findings of managerial research Design/Methodology/Approach – the data was generated from participant observations and interactions with stakeholder groups during a three month ethnographic study based in a Sainsbury store in Egypt. Data was analysed and presented via a constructed metaphor – namely Robert Louis Stevenson’s story of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde Findings – the case illustrated an apparent paradox between Sainsbury’s technical superiority as a retail operator in the Egyptian market, and its social inferiority in its interactions with a variety of stakeholders, primarily customers and employees. The use of the metaphor to organize, analyse and present the findings proves to be a fruitful way to illustrate these issue, and parallels between the two “stories” provide further insights into behaviour – the denial of responsibility for (and the existence of) social inadequacies; and the implicit (and inevitable) existence of the capacity for social inadequacy in any business organization. Practical Implications – the potential to communicate managerial lessons by telling “stories” (the case) through well known “stories” (the novel) is highglighted. Originality/Value – the use of the constructed metaphor to analyse a case of international retail divestment is, to our knowledge, unique and enhancers our understanding of the legitimisatyion process and the role of socio-moral codes in this process.

Sainsbury; Egypt; institutional approach; divestment; metaphor

International Journal of Retail and Distribution Management: Volume 36, Issue 4

Publication date31/12/2008