The natural environment as a primary stakeholder: the case of climate change



In this paper, we review the debate surrounding whether or not the natural environment should be considered an organizational stakeholder. We argue for a broad definition of stakeholders, and present a case for the natural environment being an easily identifiable primary stakeholder when climate change is brought into the debate. We develop a conceptual stakeholder identification framework by combining and extending the work of Mitchell, Agle and Wood, and Driscoll and Starik. We approach the stakeholder issue from a strategic rather than moral or ethical perspective. In particular, we contend that power, legitimacy, urgency and proximity are combined when climatic changes, such as increasingly frequent anomalous extreme weather, can damage business infrastructure, resources, products and market, overshadowing moral and ethical aspects of the debate. We also identify key implications for business and policymakers, and highlight opportunities for future research. Copyright © 2007 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd and ERP Environment.