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

Ayman El‐Amir (Department of Business Administration, Trent University, Peterborough, Canada)
Steve Burt (Department of Marketing, Institute for Retail Studies, University of Stirling, Stirling, UK)

International Journal of Retail & Distribution Management

ISSN: 0959-0552

Article publication date: 28 March 2008




The purpose of this paper is 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.


The data were generated from participant observations and interactions with stakeholder groups during a three‐month ethnographic study based in a Sainsbury store in Egypt. Data were analysed and presented via a constructed metaphor – namely Robert Louis Stevenson's story of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde.


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 this 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 highlighted.


The use of the constructed metaphor to analyse a case of international retail divestment is, to the authors' knowledge, unique and enhances the understanding of the legitimisation process and the role of socio‐moral codes in this process.



El‐Amir, A. and Burt, S. (2008), "Sainsbury's in Egypt: the strange case of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde?", International Journal of Retail & Distribution Management, Vol. 36 No. 4, pp. 300-322.



Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2008, Emerald Group Publishing Limited

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