Stakeholder Management, Reciprocity and Stakeholder Responsibility


Stakeholder theory advocates that firms bear responsibility for the implications of their actions. However, while a firm affects or can affect stakeholders, stakeholders can also affect the corporation. Previous stakeholder theorising has neglected the reciprocal nature of responsibility. The question can be asked whether—in a spirit of reciprocity, loyalty and fairness—stakeholders should treat the corporation in a fair and responsible way. This study based on different definitions of stakeholders argues that various stakeholder attributes differ for different categories of stakeholders. This analysis presumes that the attribute of stakeholder reciprocity can probably be restricted to real stakeholders, labelled stakeowners: genuine stakeholders with a legitimate stake, the loyal partners who strive for mutual benefits. Stakeowners own and deserve a stake in the firm. Stakeholder reciprocity could be an innovative criterion in the corporate governance debate as to who should be accorded representation on the board. Corporate social responsibility should imply corporate stakeholder responsibility.

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The author would like to thank the professors Silvana Signori (Università di Bergamo), Ed Freeman (Darden School, University of Virginia), Aimé Heene (Ghent University) and Marc Buelens (Vlerick Business School) for their valuable comments and suggestions that helped to improve this paper. I would also like to acknowledge the anonymous reviewers to whom I owe the formulation of the three observations marked with an asterisk* in the text.

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Correspondence to Yves Fassin.

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Fassin, Y. Stakeholder Management, Reciprocity and Stakeholder Responsibility. J Bus Ethics 109, 83–96 (2012).

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  • Stakeholder
  • Stakeholder management
  • Stakeholder theory
  • Corporate social responsibility
  • Business ethics
  • Corporate governance
  • Fairness
  • Reciprocity
  • Stakeowner