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Stakeholder theory: issues to resolve

Emerson Wagner Mainardes (Center for Studies in Management Science, Management and Economics Department, NECE, University of Beira Interior, Covilhã, Portugal)
Helena Alves (Center for Studies in Management Science, Management and Economics Department, NECE, University of Beira Interior, Covilhã, Portugal)
Mario Raposo (Center for Studies in Management Science, Management and Economics Department, NECE, University of Beira Interior, Covilhã, Portugal)

Management Decision

ISSN: 0025-1747

Article publication date: 8 March 2011

34229

Abstract

Purpose

The objective of this paper is to collate and debate the main issues driving the stakeholder theory academic debate.

Design/methodology/approach

First, a discussion of the stakeholder concept is set out before moving on to the history and nature of stakeholder theory. The work proceeds with an attempt to bring together systematically the points of divergence among researchers interested in stakeholder theory, and, finally, there is a brief discussion of these theoretical loopholes in conjunction with a proposed research agenda for the field.

Findings

Based on the unification of the theoretically problematic issues, research agenda are put forward with the objective of clarifying doubts and resolving the controversies ongoing among academics. As regards the formulation of stakeholder theory, one question requiring resolution is that of the stakeholder concept itself. Additionally, further research should focus on the boundaries as to what constitutes a stakeholder group as well as defining the criteria for attributing individual membership of one or another group. In practical theoretical application, it is correspondingly necessary to target research on aspects such as conflicts of interest between stakeholders and management difficulties in coping with multiple objectives. Finally, there is a need for research that systematizes the knowledge produced with the objective of attaining the theoretical convergence necessary for the development of stakeholder theory.

Originality/value

The main contribution of this paper derives from the systematization of the various shortcomings that need overcoming within the framework of stakeholder theory and the identification of research agendas.

Keywords

Citation

Wagner Mainardes, E., Alves, H. and Raposo, M. (2011), "Stakeholder theory: issues to resolve", Management Decision, Vol. 49 No. 2, pp. 226-252. https://doi.org/10.1108/00251741111109133

Publisher

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Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2011, Emerald Group Publishing Limited

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