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Who and What Really Matters to the Firm: Moving Stakeholder Salience beyond Managerial Perceptions

  • Pete Tashman (a1) and Jonathan Raelin (a2)

We develop the concept of stakeholder salience to account for stakeholders who should matter to the firm, even when managers do not perceive them as important. While managers are responsible for attributing salience to stakeholders, they can overlook or ignore stakeholder importance because of market frictions that affect managerial perceptions or induce opportunism. When this happens, corporate financial and social performance can suffer. Thus, we propose that the perceptions of organizational and societal stakeholders should also codetermine the salience of the focal stakeholder to the firm. We also propose that stakeholder dialogue can reduce the impacts that market frictions can have on managerial perceptions of stakeholder interests that should matter to the firm. Finally, we discuss how the refined conceptualization of stakeholder salience might have better predictive validity, be more normative, and make instrumental and normative stakeholder theory more convergent.

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Business Ethics Quarterly
  • ISSN: 1052-150X
  • EISSN: 2153-3326
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