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A corporate stakeholder is that which can affect or be affected by the actions of the business as a whole. The stakeholder concept was first used in a 1963 internal memorandum at the Stanford Research Institute. It defined stakeholders as "those groups without whose support the organization would cease to exist." The theory was later developed and championed by R. Edward Freeman in the 1980s. Since then it has gained wide acceptance in business practice and in theorizing relating to strategic management, corporate governance, business purpose and corporate social responsibility (CSR).
The term has been broadened to include anyone who has an interest in a matter.
|Government||taxation, VAT, legislation, employment, truthful reporting, diversity, legalities, externalities.|
|Employees||rates of pay, job security, compensation, respect, truthful communication.|
|Customers||value, quality, customer care, ethical products.|
|Suppliers||providers of products and services used in the end product for the customer, equitable business opportunities.|
|Creditors||credit score, new contracts, liquidity.|
|Community||jobs, involvement, environmental protection, shares, truthful communication.|
|Trade Unions||quality, worker protection, jobs.|
|Owner(s)||profitability, longevity, market share, market standing, succession planning, raising capital, growth, social goals.|
|Investors||return on investment, income.|
Any action taken by any organization or any group might affect those people who are linked with them in the private sector. For examples these are parents, children, customers, owners, employees, associates, partners, contractors, and suppliers, people that are related or located nearby.
Primary Stakeholders - usually internal stakeholders, are those that engage in economic transactions with the business. (For example stockholders, customers, suppliers, creditors, and employees)
Secondary Stakeholders - usually external stakeholders, are those who - although they do not engage in direct economic exchange with the business - are affected by or can affect its actions. (For example the general public, communities, activist groups, business support groups, and the media)
A narrow mapping of a company's stakeholders might identify the following stakeholders:
A broader mapping of a company's stakeholders may also include:
In the last decades of the 20th century, the word "stakeholder" has become more commonly used to mean a person or organization that has a legitimate interest in a project or entity. In discussing the decision-making process for institutions—including large business corporations, government agencies, and non-profit organizations—the concept has been broadened to include everyone with an interest (or "stake") in what the entity does. This includes not only its vendors, employees, and customers, but even members of a community where its offices or factory may affect the local economy or environment. In this context, "stakeholder" includes not only the directors or trustees on its governing board (who are stakeholders in the traditional sense of the word) but also all persons who "paid in" the figurative stake and the persons to whom it may be "paid out" (in the sense of a "payoff" in game theory, meaning the outcome of the transaction). Therefore to effectively engage with a community of stakeholders, the organisation's management needs to be aware of the stakeholders, understand their wants and expectations, understand their attitude (supportive, neutral or opposed) be able to prioritize the members of the overall community to focus the organisation's scarce resources on the most significant stakeholders.
The holders of each separate kind of interest in the entity's affairs are called a constituency, so there may be a constituency of stockholders, a constituency of adjoining property owners, a constituency of banks the entity owes money to, and so on. In that usage, "constituent" is a synonym for "stakeholder."
In the field of corporate governance and corporate responsibility, a major debate is ongoing about whether the firm or company should be managed for stakeholders, stockholders (shareholders), or customers. Proponents in favour of stakeholders may base their arguments on the following four key assertions:
1) Value can best be created by trying to maximize joint outcomes. For example, according to this thinking, programs that satisfy both employees' needs and stockholders' wants are doubly valuable because they address two legitimate sets of stakeholders at the same time. There is even evidence that the combined effects of such a policy are not only additive but even multiplicative. For instance, by simultaneously addressing customer wishes in addition to employee and stockholder interests, both of the latter two groups also benefit from increased sales.
2) Supporters also take issue with the preeminent role given to stockholders by many business thinkers, especially in the past. The argument is that debt holders, employees, and suppliers also make contributions and take risks in creating a successful firm.
3) These normative arguments would matter little if stockholders (shareholders) had complete control in guiding the firm. However, many believe that due to certain kinds of board of directors structures, top managers like CEOs are mostly in control of the firm.
4) The greatest value of a company is its image and brand. By attempting to fulfill the needs and wants of many different people ranging from the local population and customers to their own employees and owners, companies can prevent damage to their image and brand, prevent losing large amounts of sales and disgruntled customers, and prevent costly legal expenses. While the stakeholder view has an increased cost, many firms have decided that the concept improves their image, increases sales, reduces the risks of liability for corporate negligence, and makes them less likely to be targeted by pressure groups, campaigning groups and NGOs.
Post, Preston, Sachs (2002), use the following definition of the term "stakeholder": "The stakeholders in a corporation are the individuals and constituencies that contribute, either voluntarily or involuntarily, to its wealth-creating capacity and activities, and that are therefore its potential beneficiaries and/or risk bearers." This definition differs from the older definition of the term stakeholder in Stakeholder theory (Freeman, 1984) that also includes competitors as stakeholders of a corporation. Robert Allen Phillips provides a moral foundation for stakeholder theory in Stakeholder Theory and Organizational Ethics. There he defends a "principle of stakeholder fairness" based on the work of John Rawls, as well as a distinction between normatively and derivatively legitimate stakeholders. Real stakeholders, labelled stakeowners: genuine stakeholders with a legitimate stake, the loyal partners who strive for mutual benefits. Stakeowners own and deserve a stake in the firm. Stakeholder reciprocity could be an innovative criterion in the corporate governance debate as to who should be accorded representation on the board. Corporate social responsibility should imply a corporate stakeholder responsibility.