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Keywords:

  • stakeholder management;
  • competitive advantage;
  • firm performance;
  • organizational justice;
  • reciprocity;
  • network theory

Abstract

A firm that manages for stakeholders allocates more resources to satisfy the needs and demands of its legitimate stakeholders than would be necessary to simply retain their willful participation in the firm's productive activities. We explain why this sort of behavior unlocks additional potential for value creation, as well as the conditions that either facilitate or disrupt the value-creation process. Firms that manage for stakeholders develop trusting relationships with them based on principles of distributional, procedural, and interactional justice. Under these conditions, stakeholders are more likely to share nuanced information regarding their utility functions, thereby increasing the ability of the firm to allocate its resources to areas that will best satisfy them (thus increasing demand for business transactions with the firm). In addition, this information can spur innovation, as well as allow the firm to deal better with changes in the environment. Competitive advantages stemming from a managing-for-stakeholders approach are argued to be sustainable because they are associated with path dependence and causal ambiguity. These explanations provide a strong rationale for including stakeholder theory in the discussion of firm competitiveness and performance. Copyright © 2009 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.