Stakeholders in strategy : their 'invisible' and yet an inevitable presence?

McKiernan, Peter and Ackermann, Fran and Eden, Colin (2018) Stakeholders in strategy : their 'invisible' and yet an inevitable presence? In: EURAM 2018: 18th Annual Conference of the European Academy of Management, 2018-06-19 - 2018-06-22, University of Iceland.

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    Abstract

    Stakeholders are critical to the strategy process, but in strategy research, they are rarely seen nor heard. The purpose of this paper is to reveal their invisible presence and bring them 'in from the cold.' The research reported in this paper set out to explore the significance of stakeholders to members of a senior management team seeking to develop strategy. Each of the authors, had worked with three different management teams (between 7-12 members) in three different public/not-for-profit organisations in the health sector over a similar time period. A starting point for each project was an attempt to identify the initial views of each member of the senior management team about what issues were important in developing strategy. In each project, the initial views were recorded as a sequence of statements and so the resultant dataset was amenable to analysis. These statements were expected to give some clue as to which actors and/or stakeholders were thought to be significant for their discussion about strategy. This paper reports on the analysis and outcome of this empirical research, where the purpose of the research was to understand i) the significance of stakeholders in the initial views of a management team about what matters for the strategic future of the organisation, and ii) the nature of the way in which the role of stakeholders is mentioned. The research shows that stakeholders (and actors in general) are very significant to public/not-for-profit senior managers when thinking about their strategy. So, in strategy development, explicating and exploring the response of stakeholders to proposed strategic action is crucial to the success of the strategy.