, Volume 74, Issue 4, pp 315-327
Date: 24 Jul 2007

Stakeholder Engagement: Beyond the Myth of Corporate Responsibility

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Abstract

The purpose of this article is to transcend the assumption that stakeholder engagement is necessarily a responsible practice. Stakeholder engagement is traditionally seen as corporate responsibility in action. Indeed, in some literatures there exists an assumption that the more an organisation engages with its stakeholders, the more it is responsible. This simple ‹more is better’ view of stakeholder engagement belies the true complexity of the relationship between engagement and corporate responsibility. Stakeholder engagement may be understood in a variety of different ways and from a variety of different theoretical perspectives. Stakeholder engagement may or may not involve a moral dimension and, hence, is primarily a morally neutral practice. It is therefore argued that stakeholder engagement must be seen as separate from, but related to, corporate responsibility. A model that reflects the multifaceted relationship between the two constructs is proposed. This model not only allows the coincidence of stakeholder engagement with corporate responsibility, but also allows for the development of the notion of corporate irresponsibility.

Michelle Greenwood is on faculty at the Department of Management, Monash University Australia, where she teaches and researches in the area of Business Ethics. Her specific research fields are ethical issues in HRM, stakeholder theory␣and social and ethical auditing. She has published in Business and Professional Ethics Journal, Journal of Business Ethics, Journal of Corporate Citizenship, Business and Society Review, Business Ethics: A European Review, Journal of Management Studies and several edited books. Michelle currently serves on the editorial board of Journal of Business Ethics.