Frameworks, Strategies and Tools
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Edited by M. A. Quaddus and M. A.B. Siddique
14 Identifying stakeholders for sustainability reporting Ulrich Steimle and Anja Liebrich INTRODUCTION If effective sustainability reporting means communicating the right contents through the right distribution channels to the right stakeholders (Mach, 1994, cited by MacLean and Gottfrid, 2000), the first question to ask is: who are these stakeholders? To give an answer it is necessary to start with some basic arguments from stakeholder theory about which groups have to be considered as stakeholders and discuss how these rationales are related to corporate sustainability reporting. Mitchell et al. (1997) argued that the stakeholders of a corporation can be identified and categorized by the attributes power, legitimacy and urgency. In this chapter we show how this framework can serve as a useful heuristic for identifying and categorizing different target groups for sustainability reporting. Finally, we give some thoughts about stakeholder-oriented contents and choice of communication channels for sustainability reporting. STAKEHOLDER THEORY AND CORPORATE SUSTAINABILITY In recent years, stakeholder theory has attracted enormous attention from management theorists and has become one of the dominant perspectives on the relationship between companies and their environment. Because the basic ideas of Freeman’s approach (Freeman, 1984) have been further developed in different directions, at present no consistent stakeholder theory exists. This differentiation is reflected in diverse rationales for the economic and/or moral necessity of stakeholder orientation and in various definitions of which groups have to be considered as stakeholders. Stakeholder theory is concerned with the relationships between companies and other social actors that have different expectations about...
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