Scholars of stakeholder management have long grappled with the question of how to communicate with stakeholders to enhance cooperation and reduce conflict. We build on insights from the literature on stakeholder dialog to highlight the importance of four elements of firm–stakeholder dialog processes: timing, valence, richness, and topicality of firms’ responses to stakeholder engagements. We demonstrate a link between these elements of the firm–stakeholder dialog process and changes in stakeholder cooperation or conflict with the firm, as well as contingent tradeoffs among them. Specifically, we show that the relative importance of these elements is contingent upon stakeholder type and status. Government actors prioritize richness and topicality over timeliness and valence. Economic actors, by contrast, prioritize timeliness and valence. Civil society stakeholders prioritize timeliness, valence, and topicality over richness. Low-status actors across sectors deprioritize topicality and richness while high-status actors demand attentiveness to all four elements.
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We thank Jeffrey Harrison for his editorial guidance and three anonymous reviewers for their constructive engagement throughout the review process. We are also thankful for the feedback and suggestions provided by Adam Grant, Mary Hunter (Mae) McDonnell, and Kate Odziemkowska, as well as that from seminar attendees at Said Business School, London Business School, Rice University, the University of Queensland, the National University of Singapore and the Wharton School. We thank Anne Jamison and Xuchong Shao for their help with thematic content coding, TSX Datalinx for providing missing stock price data, and Adam Garson, Anastasia Gracheva, Arthur Xu, Bertram Ieong, Boyan Gerasimov, Brianna Wilson, Christoph Suter, Daniel Mizsei, Dong Jin Han, Ivan Koutsarov, Jervis Hui, Kevin Koplan, Lavinia Seow, Louis Balocca, Mi Hyun Lee, Neha Karmeshu, Priyanka Anand, Rishav Kanoria, and Seung-Jae Lee for over 2500 hours of superb research assistance.
The research leading to these results received funding from the National Science Foundation Social & Economic Sciences (SES-103955) as well as Wharton Global Initiatives, Wharton Social Impact Research Fund, and Santander Universidades.
Conflict of interest
Witold Henisz served as a witness in the international arbitration case Gabriel Resources Ltd. and Gabriel Resources (Jersey) Ltd. v. Romania (ICSID Case No ARB/15/31) on behalf of Gabriel Resources. His testimony was also solicited by the government of Romania. His testimony as a witness summarized his research for the development of a teaching case and the conclusions of that case (see http://icsidfiles.worldbank.org/icsid/ICSIDBLOBS/OnlineAwards/C4706/DS14001_En.pdf). The financial arrangement began in June, 2018 and concluded in December 2019. Field work that formed the basis for the testimony was complete in December 2011.
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Nartey, L.J., Henisz, W.J. & Dorobantu, S. Reciprocity in Firm–Stakeholder Dialog: Timeliness, Valence, Richness, and Topicality. J Bus Ethics 183, 429–451 (2023). https://doi.org/10.1007/s10551-022-05063-8