Managing corporate reputation when prioritising stakeholder demands by South African managers

Benn, Shaun
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Stakeholder theory has increasingly become an area of academic and management research. Every organisation has different stakeholders, upon which organisational outcomes are dependent on managerial decision making regarding the multiple relationships that exist, the various options and resources available to them, and the influence that corporate reputation has on the managers’ response to any given stakeholder claim. The purpose of this research is to offer a greater understanding of how executive managers of an emerging market company strategically identify and manage their stakeholders and consequently, the reputation of the firm. Various streams of literature were supported by the findings of the research conducted. This included the descriptive, instrumental, and normative aspects of managers’ behaviours and traits; stakeholder coalitions; and reciprocity. Areas of conflicting evidence stemming from the research included the classification of stakeholders through primary and secondary groups; stakeholder attributes of power and urgency; and “dangerous stakeholders” within stakeholder salience. There is a gap in the literature involving the effect of corporate reputation with regards to management salience and prioritising stakeholder demands. Sixteen semi-structured in-depth interviews were executed in a leading South African paint manufacturing company that forms part of a large global organisation. The respondents consisted of eight executive managers of the company, each from a different functional area, and eight stakeholders of the company comprising employees, suppliers, and customers. As a leading company within their industry, they frequently experience claims of various natures which the directors deal with on a regular basis, many of which have the potential to harm the corporate reputation. Real life cases are transcribed and reflected upon within this research report. The research findings show that the company’s corporate reputation has a direct influence on how managers prioritize and attend to stakeholder claims, mainly based on legitimacy as a core attribute. Furthermore, that managers identify their stakeholders differently to what the literature proposes, and that there are more learnings to be taken from reciprocity in stakeholder relationships.
Thesis (M.M.) (Strategic marketing)). University of the Witwatersrand, Wits Business School, 2013.
Corporate image, Stockholders, Stakeholders, Stakeholder relationships