CiteWeb id: 19970000020

CiteWeb score: 8927

DOI: 10.5465/AMR.1997.9711022105

Stakeholder theory has been a popular heuristic for describing the management environment for years, but it has not attained full theoretical status. Our aim in this article is to contribute to a theory of stakeholder identification and salience based on stakeholders possessing one or more of three relationship attributes: power, legitimacy, and urgency. By combining these attributes, we generate a typology of stakeholders, propositions concerning their salience to managers of the firm, and research and management implications. Since Freeman (1984) published his landmark book, Strategic Management: A Stakeholder Approach, the concept of "stakeholders" has become embedded in management scholarship and in managers' thinking. Yet, as popular as the term has become and as richly descriptive as it is, there is no agreement on what Freeman (1994) calls "The Principle of Who or What Really Counts." That is, who (or what) are the stakeholders of the firm? And to whom (or what) do managers pay attention? The first question calls for a normative theory of stakeholder identification, to explain logically why managers should consider certain classes of entities as stakeholders. The second question calls for a descriptive theory of stakeholder salience, to explain the conditions under which managers do consider certain classes of entities as stakeholders. Stakeholder theory, reviewed in this article, offers a maddening variety of signals on how questions of stakeholder identification might be answered. We will see stakeholders identified as primary or secondary