Stakeholder defined

McGrath, Stephen Keith and Whitty, Stephen Jonathan (2017) Stakeholder defined. International Journal of Managing Projects in Business, 10 (4). pp. 721-748. ISSN 1753-8378

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Purpose – To create a ‘refined’ (with unnecessary elements removed) definition of the term stakeholder, thereby removing confusion surrounding the use of this term from the general and project management arenas.

Design/methodology/approach – A method of deriving refined definitions for a group of terms by ensuring there are no unnecessary elements causing internal conflict or overlap is adopted and applied to resolve the confusion.

Findings – The refined definitions of stake and stakeholder are in terms of an interest and activity.
This avoids all extensions of meaning introduced by defining particular types of stakeholders and/ or their
degrees of impact. It also resolves the multiplicity of conflicting meanings possible when silent or assumed
qualifiers of a word are ignored, restricting definition to, for example, project stakeholders or stakeholders of a
firm. These definitions are carried forward into a mapping of the stakeholder locus of interest on an activity rather than a company base, enabling generic categorisation of stakeholders to be proposed for use in both private and public sectors. A governance difficulty with the term customer also emerged and a resolution to this is proposed.

Research limitations/implications – Resolution of the academic contention around the definition of
stakeholders will facilitate future research endeavours by removing confusion surrounding the term. It can also
provide clarity in governance arrangements in public and private sectors. Verification of the method used through
its success in deriving this 'refined' definition suggests its suitability for application to other contested terms.

Practical implications – Projects and businesses alike can benefit from removal of confusion around the
definition of stakeholder in the academic research they fund and attempt to apply.

Social implications – A refined definition of the stakeholder concept will facilitate building social and
physical systems and infrastructure, benefitting organisations, whether public, charitable or private.

Originality/value – Clarity results in the avoidance of confusion and misunderstanding together with their
consequent waste of time, resources and money.

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Item Type: Article (Commonwealth Reporting Category C)
Refereed: Yes
Item Status: Live Archive
Additional Information: Accepted Version deposited in accordance with the copyright policy of the publisher. Please contact ePrints Editor if access to Published version is required: Library.ePrints
Faculty/School / Institute/Centre: Historic - Faculty of Business, Education, Law and Arts - School of Management and Enterprise (1 Jul 2013 - 17 Jan 2021)
Faculty/School / Institute/Centre: Historic - Faculty of Business, Education, Law and Arts - School of Management and Enterprise (1 Jul 2013 - 17 Jan 2021)
Date Deposited: 03 Oct 2017 00:39
Last Modified: 26 May 2022 03:18
Uncontrolled Keywords: stakeholder, customer, define, refined definition, stake
Fields of Research (2008): 15 Commerce, Management, Tourism and Services > 1503 Business and Management > 150312 Organisational Planning and Management
Fields of Research (2020): 35 COMMERCE, MANAGEMENT, TOURISM AND SERVICES > 3507 Strategy, management and organisational behaviour > 350711 Organisational planning and management
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