Communication is of central importance for business and public authorities to make substantial progress on the sustainability ladder. Corporate social responsibility (CSR) is about the contribution of business to sustainability, and stakeholder theory is an integral concept of CSR. The literature regularly associates stakeholder management with good CSR schemes and practices. Proactive companies are assumed to interact at a certain level with their affected stakeholders through their business activities. It is quite common to find studies that show a direct connection between stakeholder management and business success, especially with regard to financial success. However, this study, based on an in-depth case study on Campina, the second largest dairy company in the Netherlands, has its primary focus not on direct financial implications of stakeholder management, but on the impact proactive stakeholder management has on the interaction between companies and public authorities. The study argues that CSR pro-active companies are better positioned in their sectors, especially when relating with public authorities, and that such companies are better able to influence the policy-making process compared with their competitors. Copyright © 2007 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd and ERP Environment.