Purpose – To study relationships between focal organisations and their stakeholders in a generic way, beyond the agency/transaction cost approach usually used in business research. The domain was political parties and their stakeholders. Design/methodology/approach – Study participants were officials and activists in five major Irish political parties. They were asked to nominate their most important stakeholders, to rate these stakeholders on salience as represented by power, legitimacy and urgency and to describe extent and intensity of their party engagement with these stakeholders. Findings – Stakeholders considered more important to the organisation receive higher levels of engagement from the parties than those stakeholders thought to be less critical. The results suggest that high levels of stakeholder engagement can yield beneficial electoral results for political parties. The importance of looking after “internal stakeholders” is also supported. The three attributes of power, legitimacy and urgency do not seem to describe completely the salience of stakeholders to all organisations in a generic sense. The adequacy of the three attributes is most supported in mainstream organisations with a focused pragmatic orientation toward “winning”. However, it appears that more ideologically oriented organisations may assign higher salience to stakeholders who fit their ideology, as opposed to those who possess power, legitimacy and urgency. Research limitations/implications – The ideological dimension of stakeholder salience which emerged in this study is worthy of further exploration, especially in its implications for actual stakeholder engagement and behaviour with respect to corporate social responsibility. Practical implications – In the business arena – the study suggests that high levels of stakeholder engagement can yield beneficial results. It also demonstrates the importance of looking after internal stakeholders. Originality/value – Discovery of dynamics between a focal organisation and its stakeholders in a more generic way than offered in traditional business research.
Society and Business Review – Emerald Publishing
Published: Jan 1, 2006
Keywords: Stakeholder analysis; Politics; Political parties; Ireland
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