Journal of Business Ethics

, Volume 150, Issue 2, pp 467–484 | Cite as

Stakeholder Engagement: Keeping Business Legitimate in Austria’s Natural Mineral Water Bottling Industry

  • Anna Katharina Provasnek
  • Erwin Schmid
  • Gerald Steiner


Stakeholder maneuvers such as Internet media attacks or consumer boycotts can have devastating effects on companies. By contrary, vital relationships between companies and their stakeholders can be highly beneficial. A review of the existing stakeholder-management literature suggests to engage stakeholders in business activities in a positive manner. However, the types of successful engagement activities differ across industries. The purposes of this article are to develop an explanatory framework based on the literature findings, to introduce stakeholder-engagement literature to a segment of the water sourcing industry, and to unfold industry’s stakeholder-engagement measures. Based on a content analysis of 11 cases, we investigate if and how companies in the natural mineral water bottling industry in Austria inform, communicate, and therefore engage with stakeholders. It became evident that fewer than three of eleven companies published information on sustainability or corporate social responsibility reports, open house days, workshops, or international community activities. Most companies maintained a website for their bottled natural mineral water or communicated quality consciousness. We conclude that most companies in the Austrian mineral water industry could increase their stakeholder-engagement activities to positively respond to challenging business environments.


Bottled water Corporate responsibility Engagement Legitimacy Natural mineral water Stakeholder theory 



The authors thank the section editor Robert A. Phillips and two anonymous reviewers for their insightful, critical, and constructive comments, which have contributed to improve the quality of this article.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2016

Authors and Affiliations

  • Anna Katharina Provasnek
    • 1
  • Erwin Schmid
    • 1
  • Gerald Steiner
    • 2
    • 3
  1. 1.Institute for Sustainable Economic DevelopmentUniversity of Natural Resources and Life Sciences ViennaViennaAustria
  2. 2.Weatherhead Center for International AffairsHarvard UniversityCambridgeUSA
  3. 3.Department for Knowledge and Communication ManagementDanube University KremsKremsAustria

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