Choosing among stakeholder strategies: how do managers make sense of stakeholder management?
thesisposted on 2022-03-28, 11:07 authored by Bradley James Sayer
This thesis explores how managers make sense of stakeholder management. The stakeholder literature is deficient in describing stakeholder management praxis. This deficiency and criticism has led to scholars calling for research into managerial praxis, to explain how managers interpret, practise and make sense of stakeholder management, but to date, these calls for greater research are unanswered. This thesis’ contribution, therefore, addresses this deficiency and responds to calls for further research through an exploration of managerial sense making. This research follows an embedded design, single case study methodology, as detailed by Yin (2014), using multiple data sources. A theoretically derived model develops the interview questions for the 28 field-based semi-structured interviews. Interviews are undertaken with 17 executive managers from two global medical device manufacturers, plus 11 additional executives from their stakeholders to provide depth to the study. To corroborate the findings from the interviews, and to provide breadth to the study, 100 (online) recruitment notices that use the terms ‘stakeholder’ and ‘stakeholder management’ are included. The recruitment notices are an unbiased data source that explains managers’ application of stakeholder management. Finally, another theoretically derived model frames data analysis (i.e., coding) by three approaches to stakeholder management: communications, relationships and positioning. The research findings provide an exploration of how managers make sense of the concept, which includes the foci, implications and the‘why’, ‘when’, ‘who’, ‘what’ and ‘how’ of each approach. This research contributes to stakeholder management theory by explaining how managers make sense of the concept and outlining the implications of the various stakeholder management approaches, which represent opportunities for further research. The contribution to practice explains how common stakeholder management approaches may be more effective in one situation than another.