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Does the theory of stakeholder identity and salience lead to corporate social responsibility? The case of environmental justice

Terry Beckman (Faculty of Business, Athabasca University, Edmonton, Canada)
Anshuman Khare (Faculty of Business, Athabasca University, Edmonton, Canada)
Maggie Matear (Clearlogic Consulting Professionals, Timmins, Canada)

Social Responsibility Journal

ISSN: 1747-1117

Article publication date: 3 October 2016

1335

Abstract

Purpose

The purpose of this paper is to review a possible link between the theory of stakeholder identity and salience (TSIS) and environmental justice and suggest a possible resolution.

Design/methodology/approach

This is a conceptual paper which also uses examples from industry.

Findings

The TSIS is a common management approach that helps companies determine stakeholders’ priority in building relationships and making decisions. The weakness of this theory is that it suggests that stakeholders lacking power, legitimacy and urgency be de-prioritized. This can lead to vulnerable populations’ interests being subjugated to those of more powerful stakeholders, leading at times to environmental injustice. This occurrence can jeopardize a company’s social license to operate. Therefore, it is suggested that TSIS be embedded in a situational analysis where the legitimacy and urgency criteria are applied beyond just stakeholders.

Research limitations/implications

Further research should look at the results of modifying the TSIS such that vulnerable populations are not de-prioritized.

Practical implications

This paper provides a way for organizations to be more cognizant of vulnerable populations and include them in decision-making to help avoid situations of environmental injustice.

Social implications

If organizations can recognize the impact of their decisions on vulnerable populations and include them in the decision-making process, situations of environmental injustice might not occur.

Originality/value

This paper brings to light one weak aspect of a commonly used and well accepted theory and suggests a way to mitigate potential harm that at times may arise in the form of environmental injustice.

Keywords

Acknowledgements

The authors would like to acknowledge the contribution of Marilyn McEachern, who was instrumental in preliminary research on the topic of environmental justice.

Citation

Beckman, T., Khare, A. and Matear, M. (2016), "Does the theory of stakeholder identity and salience lead to corporate social responsibility? The case of environmental justice", Social Responsibility Journal, Vol. 12 No. 4, pp. 806-819. https://doi.org/10.1108/SRJ-06-2015-0072

Publisher

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Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2016, Emerald Group Publishing Limited

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