Stakeholder Approaches in Crisis Management

  • Martin N. Ndlela


There are many approaches to the practice of crisis management. However, most of these approaches are organization-centric, concerned mostly with how best an organization can prepare for, respond to and contain crisis. These organization-centric approaches negate the view that when organizations are affected by a crisis, so too are their stakeholders. This chapter provides an overview of the different approaches to stakeholder theories, as well as the methods for identifying, mapping and analysing the organization’s stakeholders. It examines various understandings of stakeholder theory and applies a wider understanding of the concept from the perspective of crisis management. The chapter draws on both the instrumental and normative stakeholder perspectives. It argues that by adopting a stakeholder approach, organizations can optimize their crisis management efforts.


Stakeholder theory Stakeholder mapping Stakeholder communications 


  1. Ackermann, F., & Eden, C. (2010). Strategic Management of Stakeholders: Theory and Practice. LRP—International Journal of Strategic Management, 44, 179–196.Google Scholar
  2. Alpaslan, C. M., Green, S. E., & Mitroff, I. I. (2009). Corporate Governance in the Context of Crises: Towards a Stakeholder Theory of Crisis Management. Journal of Contingencies and Crisis Management, 17(1), 38–49. Scholar
  3. Atwood, E. L., & Major, A. M. (1998). Exploring the ‘Cry Wolf’ Hypothesis. International Journal of Mass Emergencies and Disasters, 16(3), 279–302.Google Scholar
  4. Blanchard-Boehm, D. R. (1998). Understanding Public Response to Increased Risk from Natural Hazards: Application of the Hazards Risk Communication Framework. International Journal of Mass Emergencies and Disasters, 16(3), 247–278.Google Scholar
  5. Coombs, W. T. (2009). Conceptualizing Crisis Communication. In R. L. Heath & H. D. O`Hair (Eds.), Handbook of Crisis and Risk Communication (pp. 100–119). New York, NY: Routledge.Google Scholar
  6. Coombs, W. T. (2012). Parameters for Crisis Communication. In T. W. Coombs & S. J. Holladay (Eds.), The Handbook of Crisis Communication. Oxford: Wiley-Blackwell.Google Scholar
  7. Donaldson, T., & Preston, L. E. (1995). The Stakeholder Theory of the Corporation: Concepts, Evidence, and Implications. Academy of Management Review, 20, 65–91.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. Evan, W. M. (1965). Toward a Theory of Inter-Organizational Relations. Management Science, 11(10), B217–B230.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. Fearn-Banks, K. (2011). Crisis Communication: A Casebook Approach (4th ed.). New York, NY: Routledge.Google Scholar
  10. Ferguson, S. D. (1999). Communication Planning: An Integrated Approach. London: Sage Publications.Google Scholar
  11. Fontaine, C., Haarman, A., & Schmid, S. (2006). The Stakeholder Theory (of the Multi National Corporation). Retrieved from
  12. Freeman, R. E. (1994). The Politics of Stakeholder Theory: Some Future Directions. Business Ethics Quarterly, 4(4), 409–421. Scholar
  13. Freeman, R. E., Harrison, J. S., & Wicks, A. C. (2008). Managing for Stakeholders: Survival, Reputation, and Success. New Haven, CT: Yale University Press.Google Scholar
  14. Freeman, R. E., & McVea, J. (2001). A Stakeholder Approach to Strategic Management. In M. A. Hitt, R. E. Freeman, & J. Harrison (Eds.), The Blackwell Handbook of Strategic Management. Oxford: Wiley-Blackwell.Google Scholar
  15. Freeman, R. E., & Phillips, R. A. (2002). Stakeholder Theory: A Libertarian Defense. Business Ethics Quarterly, 12(3), 331–349. Scholar
  16. Freeman, R. E., & Reed, D. L. (1983). Stockholders and Stakeholders: A New Perspective on Corporate Governance. California Management Review, 25(3), 88–106. Scholar
  17. Friedman, A. L., & Miles, S. (2006). Stakeholders: Theory and Practice. Oxford: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
  18. Grunig, J. E., & Hunt, T. (1984). Managing Public Relations. New York, NY: Holt, Rinehart and Winston.Google Scholar
  19. Grunig, J. E., & Repper, F. (1992). Strategic Management, Publics, and Issues. In J. E. Grunig (Ed.), Excellence in Public Relations and Communication Management (pp. 117–157). Hillsdale, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates.Google Scholar
  20. Heath, R. L. (1997). Strategic Issues Management: Organizations and Public Policy Challenges. London: Sage.Google Scholar
  21. Heath, R. L. (2012). Crisis Communication: Defining the Beast and De-marginalizing Key Publics. In W. T. Coombs & S. J. Holladay (Eds.), The Handbook of Crisis Communication. Chichester, UK: Wiley-Blackwell.Google Scholar
  22. Helm, S., Kerstin, L.-G., & Storck, C. (2011). Reputation Management. Berlin: Springer.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  23. Holladay, S. J. (2009). Crisis Communication Strategies in the Media Coverage of Chemical Accidents. Journal of Public Relations Research, 21(2), 208–217.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  24. Mackey, S. (2006). Misuse of the Term ‘Stakeholder’ in Public Relations. PRIsm, 4(1). Retrieved from
  25. Major, A. M. (1998). The Utility of Situational Theory of Publics for Assessing Public Response to a Disaster Prediction. Public Relations Review, 24(4), 489–508.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  26. Mitchell, R. K., Agle, B. R., & Wood, D. J. (1997). Toward a Theory of Stakeholder Identification and Salience: Defining the Principle of Who and What Really Counts. The Academy of Management Review, 22(4), 853–886. Scholar
  27. Mitroff, I. I., Pearson, C. M., & Harrington, L. K. (1996). Essential Guide to Managing Corporate Crises. New York, NY: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
  28. Pearson, C. M., & Clair, J. A. (1998). Reframing Crisis Management. The Academy of Management Review, 23(1), 59–76. Scholar
  29. Polonsky, M. J. (1996). Stakeholder Management and the Stakeholder Matrix: Potential Strategic Marketing Tools. Journal of Market Focused Management, 1(3), 209–229.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  30. Post, J. E., Preston, L. E., & Sachs, S. (2002). Managing the Extended Enterprise: The New Stakeholder View. California Management Review, 45(1), 6–28.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  31. Preston, L. E., & Sapienza, H. J. (1990). Stakeholder Management and Corporate Performance. Journal of Behavioral Economics, 19(4), 361–375.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  32. Raupp, J. (2011). The Concept of Stakeholders and Its Relevance for Corporate Social Responsibility Communication. In Ø. Ihlen, J. Bartlett, & S. May (Eds.), The Handbook of Communication and Corporate Social Responsibility. Chichester, UK: Wiley-Blackwell.Google Scholar
  33. Rawlins, B. L. (2006). Prioritizing Stakeholders for Public Relations. Retrieved August 20, 2015, from
  34. Reiss, G., Anthony, M., Chapman, J., Leigh, G., Rayner, P., & Pyne, A. (2006). Gower Handbook of Programme Management. Aldershot, UK: Gower.Google Scholar
  35. Zaremba, A. J. (2010). Crisis Communication: Theory and Practice. Armonk, NY: M.E. Sharpe.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© The Author(s) 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  • Martin N. Ndlela
    • 1
  1. 1.Inland School of Business and Social SciencesInland Norway University of Applied SciencesElverumNorway

Personalised recommendations