Overcoming Fear, Fostering Courage and Unleashing Candour
New Horizons in Management series
Edited by Ronald J. Burke and Cary L. Cooper
Chapter 4: Stakeholder voice, corporate dysfunction and change: an organizational learning perspective
In recent years, stakeholder theory (Freeman, 1984) has taken center stage in research on organizations and society (Laplume et al., 2008). According to Freeman’s (1984: 46) classic definition, stakeholders are “any group or individual who can affect or is affected by the achievement of the organization’s objectives”. One of the primary insights of stakeholder theory is that the business corporation can be meaningfully understood by examining its relationships with the various parties that have a stake in the firm’s activities and outcomes (Parmar et al., 2010). The idea of the stake holder is also intimately linked to Hirschman’s (1970) conception of voice, which represents one of the most basic ways stakeholders can exert influence. Hirschman (1970: 30) defined voice as “any attempt at all to change rather than escape from an objectionable state of affairs.” More recently, Detert and Burris (2007) described voice as “the discretionary provision of information intended to improve organizational functioning to someone inside an organization with the perceived authority to act.”
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