Journal of Business Ethics

, Volume 74, Issue 4, pp 315-327

First online:

Stakeholder Engagement: Beyond the Myth of Corporate Responsibility

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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.


corporate irresponsibility corporate responsibility human resource management social reporting stakeholder engagement stakeholder theory