Long Paper

2 Stakeholder Theory
Stakeholder language has gained momentum across various academic fields in the last two decades. However, a coherent stakeholder theory is difficult to identify because various academic disciplines have produced several versions of stakeholder theory (Roberts and Mahoney, 2004: 399). Stakeholder theory research addresses two central questions. These are first, to identify groups of stakeholders who deserve or require, for one or the other reason, management's attentions (Sundaram and Inkpen, 2004: 352) and second, to find out to what extent management's decisions are a function of stakeholder expectations and influences (Rowley, 1997: 889). In the following subsections, the historical roots of stakeholder theory are presented before turning to various stakeholder definitions offered by the literature. Finally, different classification schemes for stakeholder research are discussed.

2.1 Historical roots of stakeholder theory Although scholars define Freeman's (1984) work linking the stakeholder concept with strategic management as the starting point for the intensive examination of stakeholder aspects in the field of organization studies (Sundaram and Inkpen, 2004: 352), the roots of the stakeholder concept go back to the Stanford Research Institute (SRI) in the 1960s (Carroll and Näsi, 1997: 46).1 The term stakeholder, as defined by the SRI, refers to "those groups without whose support the organization would cease to exist" (Freeman and Reed, 1983: 89). Hence, it is no surprise that stakeholder analysis was an integral part of the SRI corporate planning process. The SRI argued that managers needed to understand the concerns of all stakeholders to assure the firm's long-term success (Freeman and Reed, 1983: 89). To some extent, the stakeholder notion was used as a counter movement to the then, and still, privileged place of stockholders in the business enterprise. Starting from the SRI's original definition, many other definitions of the...