Journal of Business Ethics

, Volume 102, Supplement 1, pp 77–87

Stakeholder Theory and Social Identity: Rethinking Stakeholder Identification


DOI: 10.1007/s10551-011-1191-4

Cite this article as:
Crane, A. & Ruebottom, T. J Bus Ethics (2011) 102: 77. doi:10.1007/s10551-011-1191-4


In this article, we propose an adaption to stakeholder theory whereby stakeholders are conceptualized on the basis of their social identity. We begin by offering a critical review of both traditional and more recent developments in stakeholder theory, focusing in particular on the way in which stakeholder categories are identified. By identifying critical weaknesses in the existing approach, as well as important points of strength, we outline an alternative approach that refines our understanding of stakeholders in important ways. To do so, we draw on notions of social identity as the fundamental basis for group cohesion, mobilization, and action. A new form of cross-mapping as a basis for stakeholder identification is advanced and key research questions are set out.


Corporate responsibilityIdentity salienceSocial identity theoryStakeholder identification and classificationStakeholder theory



Lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgendered


Non-governmental organizations

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2012

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Schulich School of BusinessYork UniversityTorontoCanada