The Impact of Stakeholder Identities on Value Creation in Issue-Based Stakeholder Networks

Journal of Business Ethics 144 (1):41-57 (2017)
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Abstract

In this conceptual paper, we draw on social identity theory as a means to bridge individuals’ memberships in social groups with value creation in stakeholder networks defined by a socio-economic issue. To address recent calls for microfoundations of stakeholder theory, we introduce a reconceptualization of stakeholders as social groups to examine how value is defined and interpreted in intergroup processes embedded in an issue-based stakeholder network. We establish a theoretical model of value creation that links individuals’ identification with stakeholder groups to intergroup trust, co-operation, and value creation. Specifically, we argue that the salience of preexisting social identities causes harmful tensions in stakeholder relationships that negatively impact value creation. We then propose that the development of a more inclusive stakeholder identity overcomes these negative intergroup consequences in multistakeholder settings. We discuss the impact on value creation of four stakeholder identity representations based on the salience of specific and superordinate stakeholder groups. The paper concludes with implications of our theoretical model for both research and practice related to value creation in issue-based stakeholder networks.

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