Stakeholder Salience for Small Businesses: A Social Proximity Perspective

Abstract

This paper advances stakeholder salience theory from the viewpoint of small businesses. It is argued that the stakeholder salience process for small businesses is influenced by their local embeddedness, captured by the idea of social proximity, and characterised by multiple relationships that the owner-manager and stakeholders share beyond the business context. It is further stated that the ethics of care is a valuable ethical lens through which to understand social proximity in small businesses. The contribution of the study conceptualises how the perceived social proximity between local stakeholders and small business owner-managers influences managerial considerations of the legitimacy, power and urgency of stakeholders and their claims. Specifically, the paradoxical nature of close relationships in the salience process is acknowledged and discussed.

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Fig. 1

Notes

  1. 1.

    In this study, the concept of locality includes the idea of local community as the embodiment of a certain geographical closeness and social proximity in terms of feelings of belonging and similarity.

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Funding

Merja Lähdesmäki and Marjo Siltaoja have received research grants from Academy of Finland (Grant Numbers 259482 and 260138). The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.

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Lähdesmäki, M., Siltaoja, M. & Spence, L.J. Stakeholder Salience for Small Businesses: A Social Proximity Perspective. J Bus Ethics 158, 373–385 (2019). https://doi.org/10.1007/s10551-017-3707-z

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Keywords

  • Ethics of care
  • Local embeddedness
  • Small business
  • Social proximity
  • Stakeholder relations
  • Stakeholder salience