John Lewis Partnership

26.10.2020 in Case Study
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Introduction to the Firm

This paper aims at coming up with a conclusive case study of John Lewis Partnership. The company is a partnership in the UK, which is run through trust and for the sake of employees who are viewed as the company’s partners (Tomar, 2013). The partnership operates department stores known as John Lewis as well as supermarket Waitrose. As partners of the company, employees are awarded part of the profits realized annually, which significantly raises their salaries. This bonus is between 9 and 20% of the salary earned by an employee (Tomar, 2013).

John Lewis Partnership is named after its founder John Lewis, who started the partnership in 1864 as a drapery shop. The shop was located in London, at 132 Oxford Street at the time (Tomar, 2013). The partnership has now approximately 91,500 partners. Every employee, being a partner, has a chance to influence the way business is run through forums carried out in different branches. The partnership has its council made up of 82 representatives. 80% of the council members are elected by partners who are the employees of the company (Tomar, 2013).

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The remaining 20% are appointed by the chairman of the partnership. Services offered by the partnership mainly focus on middle- and upper-class shoppers. In the recent past, however, the partnership has introduced an essential value range to its products with the aim of accommodating all buyers despite of their class (Tomar, 2013). The partnership has been successful due to the fact that it allows all members of the company to contribute ideas through open channels (Tomar, 2013). The partnership also publishes a magazine every week. It shows the activities that have been carried out during the corresponding week.

In addition to this, all partners are enrolled to a pension scheme, which covers even insurance of death while in service. Every member is also entitled to holidays. When an employee works for 25 years in the company, a fully paid long leave that goes for six months is given to him/her (Tomar, 2013).

Overall Approach to Corporate Social Responsibility

Corporate social responsibility is a mechanism within a company that has self-regulatory policies aimed at ensuring that the company actively complies with the law and maintains standards of ethics as well as both international and national norms. In Carroll’s argument, there are various forms of corporate social responsibility, which should be viewed as a whole and not separately. The first type is economic responsibility. This is aimed at increasing profits earned by the company, reducing costs incurred, maximizing sales realized per day as well as making strategic decisions (Carroll, 2008).

The second type of responsibility is the legal one. This is where the partnership is expected by society to adhere to laws since they represent social regard. The third type is an ethical responsibility. For this type of responsibility, it is expected (though it is not a requirement) by society (Carroll, 2008). This is to be achieved through avoidance of practices, which are questionable for society. The forth type is philanthropic responsibility. As for this responsibility, the partnership is expected to maintain top performance and corporate citizenship and also to work towards improving the lives of people. This can be done through voluntary programs and support for society (Carroll, 2008).

The constitution of John Lewis Partnership dictates clearly responsibilities to be accepted by the company towards each partner, customer, supplier, and the whole community as well as the environment where the partnership runs its operations (Tomar, 2013). The partnership focuses more on maintaining relationships with its farmers as well as suppliers in order to enhance fairness. As for the customers, the partnership works at providing a variety of products to be able to appeal to all types of people. The partnership treads lightly by reducing carbon monoxide emissions, sourcing out food in a responsible way, and taking care of their waste (Tomar, 2013).

The partnership also devotes itself to performing initiatives for the community and creating relationships with the community through fundraisers, charity, and maintaining a Golden Jubilee Trust Scheme. The scheme uses tokens, which enables customers every month or every three months to have a say on the amount of money given out by the partnership to charity (Tomar, 2013).

External Stakeholder Management

For John Lewis Partnership, there are five types of stakeholders. These are the partners, which is another term used to refer to employees of the company; the customers, who refer to the community; the suppliers of the company; the government along with other regulators; and the non-governmental organizations, being the last group of stakeholders (Tomar, 2013). Partners are very important to John Lewis Partnership since they are co-owners of the company and play a significant role in the success of the company through dealing with customers daily. John Lewis Partnership listens to its partners through holding forums as well as through having councils and committees at different levels to give room for partners in expressing their opinions.

The partnership also carries out annual surveys for its partners. Each division of the company holds a general meeting on an annual basis. The partnership also makes publications and holds road shows to accommodate its partners. For communication with partners, John Lewis Partnership has an intranet channel (Tomar, 2013). With this, the company has been able to find out job satisfaction of employees, importance of having democracy, and the relevance of having changes in the company. For the customers, the partnership aims at dealing with them honesty, securing the loyalty of customers, building trust through providing quality products as well as charging fair prices.

The partnership consults with customers through the scheme of loyalty cards, which explain customer trends. The organization also carries out surveys for its customers in order to be able to know their preferences, and the perceptions they hold of the company’s products (Tomar, 2013). The John Lewis Partnership has a number of teams responsible for monitoring queries raised by customers. Through this, the company has been able to learn that their customers expect to buy some goods, which shows value for their money. For the suppliers, the partnership looks at building long-lasting relationships through honesty, fair treatment, and exercising courtesy. The partnership has trained assessors who are responsible for engaging with farmers as a way of assessing risks and coming up with solutions.

With the Trade Focus Group of John Lewis, the suppliers are able to meet and combine ideas. In the recent past, John Lewis hosted a timber summit and an analysis to determine benefits of having relations with the industry of pork. Through this, the partnership was able to realize the importance of having transparency in pricing (Tomar, 2013). For the government, the partnership aims at adhering to laws provided by the former. The partnership constantly raises awareness to the government about the uniqueness in the nature of business. This is done through consultations during meetings of committee members.

The partnership has personnel dealing with public affairs, who are responsible for holding regular talks with the government officials. The company also works in hand with various trade associations such as the British Retail Consortium. To ensure compliance with the law, the partnership works closely with executives for health and safety. Through this, the partnership has learnt to focus on maintaining standards of labour as well as sharing information. As for the non-governmental organizations, the partnership sees them as important tools for giving views about a number of issues within the company. To perform this, the organization plays a great role in bringing ethics to trading activities as well as reducing slavery in agricultural supply chains.

At the moment, the company has a number of relationships with Oxfam, Fair Trade Foundation, and Project Issara as well as with the foundation known as Lorna Young. With these connections, the partnership is able to learn the benefits of having mutual relationships. The firm is also able to increase transparency within its members and build honesty amongst most of its stakeholders.

Internal Focus of Corporate Social Responsibility

For the success of John Lewis Partnership, the company maintains its strategy through three policies practiced internally. The first policy is regularly increasing the advantages given to the partners. The second policy is realizing the potential of the market at different times. The third policy is ensuring efficient growth. Looking at the first policy of John Lewis Partnership, one may notice its relation to partners. The primary aim of the policy is motivating and creating effectiveness with the partners. This is fuelled by the fact that the partnership becomes competitive with the partners’ success (In Pedersen, 2015).

When the partnership is competitive, then it implies that production levels will also be high, and the daily sales rates will be parallel to the rate of production (Pedersen, 2015). This is why it is crucial for the partnership to ensure that all partners gain satisfaction of co-ownership of John Lewis, and are the part of community associated with success. It creates the need for implementation of the second policy. The latter calls for realizing the potential of the market. The policy aims at attracting new customers daily as well as retaining and working at deepening the relationships with the existing customers.

For such customers, observing preferences and maintaining quality are positive moves in order to keeping them around. As for the new customers, the creation of a product that will make them realize its high quality is crucial. The partnership does this by ensuring that it understands better the needs of customers, which are characterized by frequent changes and swiftly respond to them. This might mean having competitive pricing, identifying flexible opportunities for shopping, and creating satisfaction for the partners in terms of their products being sourced appropriately. This move positively impacts the partnership by supporting its position in the market.

This shows the reason why, it is necessary for the partnership, to have the third policy. The last one is a course of action where ensuring efficient growth is viewed by the partnership as a cause for complexity in business for the partnership as well as for considerable impact seen in terms of the costs incurred by the partnership. This has been realized by considering the growth that has taken place in the partnership for ten years. With this kind of growth, it therefore means that the partnership has to come up with better moves of preparing for anticipated growth, which may occur in several years.

This realization has made the partnership focus more on being efficient in order to be able to achieve balance in the growth of profits. At the moment, the partnership aims at delivering profits, which are enough to be distributed to all partners; it is also cautious about prioritizing investments and practicing control of cost (Tomar, 2013).These moves have been impacting positively the partnership by revealing the relevance of co-ownership to the partners through creating enthusiasm for continuous improvement, regular innovation, and constant enterprise with the aim of maintaining the commercial capability of the company as well as its democratic competence (Tomar, 2013).

Therefore, this calls for having high levels in corporate governance by carrying out audits in an effective way while having corporate social responsibility as well as having effective risk committees (Tomar, 2013). The aim of these moves is to encourage the achievement of all these three internal policies. For this reason, the partnership is always keen on demonstrating to the public and the partners themselves how beneficial it is to have co-ownership as well as the importance of having ethics, which sell the name of the partnership in the prevailing market. Evidence to the moves by the partnership can be proven by the success of the partnership, in competing with and outperforming the companies, which are seen as conventional (Tomar, 2013).

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Corporate Social Responsibility Stage of Development

In order to see how corporate social responsibility has developed over time in John Lewis Partnership, it is important to look at the framework created by Carlisle and Faulkner. The researchers have analysed effects of decisions they make towards their employees, suppliers, customers, and investors as well as the community (Carlisle & Faulkner, 2004). Their primary aim has been making every effort towards operating responsibly within the market through practicing ethics in marketing their products. Carlisle and Faulkner have kept keen interest in the safety of their products. With this view, the authors have been working towards coming up with a culture, where the continuous improvement is present (Carlisle & Faulkner, 2004).

Carlisle and Faulkner have not been reluctant in seeking processes of manufacturing, which are cost-effective and require less energy. The researchers look at reducing wastes in order to improve the efficiency of their production and reduce the impact their activities create to the environment (Carlisle & Faulkner, 2004). In consideration of the Carlisle and Faulkner case, John Lewis Partnership has developed over time in a great way. The partnership is working hard at achieving corporate citizenship through being socially responsible and taking care of the environment. The partnership is working towards sustainability by building stronger relationships with its customers and sourcing for new customers.

John Lewis Partnership holds to the values of good governance, fair treatment of partners, provision of high-quality products, and adherence to the laws adopted by the government. These moves have enabled John Lewis Partnership to drive its own innovations as well as to improve the satisfaction of every partner and customer. The growth of corporate social responsibility at John Lewis Partnership is parallel to the expansion, growth of services, and the products provided by the partnership as well as the profits earned by it. Thus, this implies that the partnership focuses on the responsibility it has for the partners, the products they produce, and the impact they have on society.

According to Mervin and Googins, corporate citizenship involves a number of stages. The first stage calls for firms to be compliant. Looking at compliance, there are seven ways in which the firms can be compliant (Googins, Mirvis, & Rochlin, 2007). Firms should be compliant with providing jobs, earning profits, and paying taxes in the citizenship concept. Firms should also have a strategic intent to comply with the law. They should have a lip service form of leadership and a staff driven structure. When it comes to management, firms should be defensive and have unilateral relationships with its stakeholders (Googins, Mirvis, & Rochlin, 2007). For transparency, firms should exercise flank protection.

The second stage calls for firms to be engaged. This can be achieved through their protecting the environment, having good reputation, and having a supportive form of leadership (Googins, Mirvis, & Rochlin, 2007). The structure of the firm should allow for functional ownership and policies for management. All stakeholders should be given room for interactions, and relations with the public should be transparent.

The third stage is an innovative one. In this stage, firms are expected to practice effective management of stakeholders and have a strategic business case (Googins, Mirvis, & Rochlin, 2007). Leadership should be straightforward, while the structure of firms should allow for coordination of a cross-functional nature. Management should be responsive, while stakeholders should have mutual influence to the firm (Googins, Mirvis, & Rochlin, 2007). For transparency, firms should exercise public reporting.

The fourth stage is integration. In this stage, firms are expected to practice sustainability and proposition of value. Leaders of the firms are expected to champion activities as well as to have structure that shows alignment in the organization. Management should be proactive and exercise partnership with stakeholders (Googins, Mirvis, & Rochlin, 2007). For transparency, firms should practice assurance.

The fifth stage is transforming. In this stage, firms are expected to change their ways and create new markets. Leaders should be visionary, while the structure of the firms should be driven by business (Googins, Mirvis, & Rochlin, 2007). Management should be defining, and the stakeholders should involve multi-organizations. For transparency, firms should exercise full exposure.


This paper has addressed the case study of John Lewis Partnership. It has come out clearly that this organization exercises corporate social responsibility. The partnership has been identified as having a constitution, which has an aim of dictating clearly the responsibilities to be met by John Lewis Partnership towards their partners, customers, suppliers, and the community at large as well as the environment. John Lewis Partnership focuses on having stable relationships with its farmers and suppliers in order to enhance fairness.

For the customers, the partnership dedicates its efforts to providing them with a variety of products to be able to appeal to all types of people. The company has also been seen as treading lightly by reducing carbon monoxide emissions, sourcing out food in a responsible way, and taking care of their waste. It has also been evident that the partnership devotes itself to performing initiatives for the community and creating relationships with it through fundraisers, charity, and maintaining a Golden Jubilee Trust Scheme.

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