Stakeholder Theory and Marketing: Moving from a Firm-Centric to a Societal Perspective
Journal of Public Policy & Marketing
This essay is inspired by the ideas and research examined in the special section on “Stakeholder Marketing” of the Journal of Public Policy & Marketing in 2010. The authors argue that stakeholder marketing is slowly coalescing with the broader thinking that has occurred in the stakeholder management and ethics literature streams during the past quarter century. However, the predominant view of stakeholders that many marketers advocate is still primarily pragmatic and company centric. The position advanced herein is that stronger forms of stakeholder marketing that reflect more normative, macro/societal, and network-focused orientations are necessary. The authors briefly explain and justify these characteristics in the context of the growing “prosociety” and “proenvironment” perspectives—orientations that are also in keeping with the public policy focus of this journal. Under the “hard form” of stakeholder theory, which the authors endorse, marketing managers must realize that serving stakeholders sometimes requires sacrificing maximum profits to mitigate outcomes that would inflict major damage on other stakeholders, especially society.