Stakeholder Salience (Mitchell, Agle and Wood)

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Stakeholder Salience (Mitchell, Agle and Wood)
Maurits de Jonge, Student (University), Netherlands

Mitchell, Agle and Wood expressed the importance of stakeholders’ needs and wishes to the company with the term 'salience'. Stakeholders’ salience is defined as 'the degree to which managers give priority to competing stakeholder claims' and is determined by the weighted power of stakeholders, the legitimacy of their actions, and the urgency of their needs and wishes:
  1. POWER: 'the extent to which a party has or can gain access to coercive (physical means), utilitarian (material means) or normative (prestige, esteem and social) means to impose their will'.
  2. LEGITIMACY: 'a generalized perception or assumption that the actions of an entity are desirable, proper, or appropriate within some socially constructed system of norms, values, beliefs, and definitions'.
  3. URGENCY: 'the degree to which stakeholder claims call for immediate attention'. The degree depends not just on time-sensitivity, but also on how critical the relationship is with stakeholder or the importance of their claim.
From this stakeholder mapping typology Mitchell, Agle and Wood developed a theory of stakeholder salience. The more attributes – power, legitimacy, and urgency – a stakeholder is perceived to have, the higher its salience.
The managers of any company or organization will give most priority to the needs and wishes of stakeholders they perceive to have the most power, legitimacy and urgency.
Note that the own interests of the company are not among the 3 salience criteria, because they only concern attributes of stakeholders. How could the company's own interests be integrated?

The Company Interest is (Sometimes) Part of the Agenda of the Stakeholders
Martijn van der Werf, Business Consultant, Netherlands
A stakeholder is identified because he is connected to the issue at hand in some way. That does not automatically mean he is part of (the same) company or has the same goals though.
If a stakeholder is part of the company he will be responsible for conveying the organizational goals from his role in the company. He is the representative of the interest of (a part of) the company for this problem and tries to make sure that this interest is integrated in the eventually selected solution.
In (complex) problem solving, selecting the right stakeholders largely determines the preferred solution of a problem; what outcome will be selected is typically the result of stakeholders' goals and requirements.

Stakeholders and Salience
Andrew Blaine, Business Consultant, South Africa
I wish to make 2 points: 1. The word "salience" is used in English to define a relationship with a "salient" or piece of land that sticks out or protrudes. This means, in my opinion, that Messrs. Mitchell et al have made an irrelevant selection of term which should be reassessed.
2. A business is made up of four parts:
2.1 The Stakeholders - those who invest/have an interest in the business and includes investors and regulatory bodies who derive income from it;
2.2 Management - that group charged with the establishment and development of the business;
2.3 The Board - the group that determines the manner in which the business is to be developed; and
2.4 The Staff - who implement the decisions made by Management in tune with direction from the Board.
To me this whole argument affords the stakeholders assumed power to which they are not necessarily entitled. They are entitled to maintain, or relinquish, their interest and nothing more, surely?

Sudden Power and Urgency of Stakeholders
Alfred Inkiriwng, Director, Indonesia
One of the main problems an institution can encounter in stakeholders management is the sudden appearance of an unknown, dangerous stakeholder. The palm oil industry in Indonesia never expected that an animal, the Orang Utan, became a stakeholder that profoundly changed the nature of this industry. To overcome the boycotts of Indonesia palm oil exports following the accusation of destroying the natural habitat of the Orang Utan, this industry had to implement and comply to new and many regulations. This certainly increased their cost considerably.
This case proved that even NGO's from outside Indonesia can become external stakeholders that have power, legitimacy and urgency to influence corporations. Because of this, scanning the stakeholders and possible (internal, external, local, national and global) stakeholders of a corporation is a required process.

Definition of Salience of Stakeholders
Jaap de Jonge, Editor, Netherlands
@Andrew Blaine: In order to avoid confusion, regarding your
- Point 1. The authors of this model defined 'salience' as the degree to which managers give priority to competing stakeholder claims. This seems to correspond well with the use of the term in social sciences and linguistics, in which the word means: relative importance based on context.
- Point 2, note that only SOME stakeholders are normally seen as being part of a business. The others aren't. But they can still influence a business. For more info on this see our summary of stakeholder analysis. Thank you.

Stakeholder Salience
Dr. James Bruton, Professor, Germany
The authors' theory can be interpreted to be normative. Managers tend to react to stakeholders who are "loud" (urgency) and can "pull their weight" (power). Legitimacy is an ethical aspect and the authors claim managers should take this aspect into account, too.
Now to answer your question: if you include the company's management team as a stakeholder constituency (which some do) this should give you the necessary basis for including the company's own interests, assuming that the management will represent these.
From the point of view of business ethics all stakeholders (including fringe stakeholders) should be taken into consideration. For more details see Habermas' discourse ethics. This is hardly feasible in practice, where 3 or 4 stakeholder groups seem to be the rule as many studies would suggest.

Stakeholder Goals <> Project Goals <> Business Goals
j.a. karman, ICT Consultant, Netherlands
I needed to think what stakeholder mapping is about. I found that more basic, two-dimensional magic quadrant: the "interest and power matrix of Mendelow to categorize stakeholders.
This is about diplomacy for a friendly word machiavellianism when you want to have it negative associated.
Stakeholders do not need to be insiders of the corporation that funded and started the project. The Orang Utan of @Alfred Inkiriwng is a good example. They were assumed to have no power. Then the power came from a different source.
There are 8 areas defined for stakeholders, but not the area where you could use this way of dealing with people.
Switch 1: It can be used in a positive entrepreneurial way, but also this can be done in any social organization also the criminal and illegal ones. The definition of legitimacy is to be changed.
Switch 2: That is my subject title. Why should all people have the same goal of your project. In reality they have their own. No alignment!

Stakeholder's Salience
Martin Lekoski, Slovakia
Everything that the organization comes in contact with is more or less its stakeholder. So it is natural for the organization to find criteria on which it renders some stakeholders more important than others. Once it sorts which ones are more important, it will try 'to please' them, in order to secure its existence.
But all that just assumes every stakeholder actually has interest in the organization and wants to exploit it for his own gains. This may or may not be true.
But since all organizations are more or less connected, anything we do will affect all around us. To please only one side and not the other may not be a good choice.
As for the question "How should company interest be integrated in all this?", well the real question is: "What is the company's interest?" Many organizations once had a "purpose" which was usually stated in their vision. Nowadays they have just the purpose of making money and the vision became just a part of their marketing campaign.

Business Dignity Building Theory
Prof. ALABDALLAOUI, Management Consultant, Morocco
Salience is not new in our Moroccan culture. My Theory of Business Dignity Building (BDB) is based on old Moroccan business ethics under: Honesty-Respect-Wisdom. Each item has skills and discipline, to implement for respect and application. That gives to stakeholders sustainable confidence and development, in terms of power, legitimacy and urgency.

Identifying Stakeholders: Tools & Techniques
Nguyen Tri Hue, Project Manager, France
I would like to inform that this method is documented as one of the best practices in the PMBOK Guide 5th edition; Stakeholder Management.
Editor: Indeed stakeholder management was added in 2013 in the 5th version of the Project Management Body of Knowledge (PMBOK) Guide, see section "ORIGIN OF PMBOK. HISTORY" of our PMBOK summary.

Company's Interest and Stakeholder Salience
Gilbert Mlongoti Sinjani, Manager, Zambia
How can the interest of the company be integrated? My approach would be to do a thorough internal (within the company) stakeholder analysis. Remember stakeholders are not just residing outside the company but within it as well. For example, company shareholders (who can be part of its board of directors), the board of directors, management (senior, middle and junior) and staff (unionized and non-unionized) are all stakeholders of a company. These are termed as: "internal stakeholders".
With a proper analysis and segmentation of its internal stakeholders, the company's interest can be considered and taken care of. This mapping tool is used as part of stakeholder analysis, which is a means to an end itself.

Stakeholder's Salience
Sandy Musallam, Editor, United States
The company's own interests should be aligned with the stakeholder's legitimate expectations and wantings. The company has certain fiduciary obligations towards its stakeholders, whether they are internal or external stakeholders.
There is a correlation between the interests of the company and those of the stakeholders. There should be a balance between the expectations and goals of the stakeholders and the goals and objectives of the company, and that in return would assure that the own interests of the company are integrated and accepted by the stakeholders. The theory of Stakeholder's Salience can be well applied to achieve all this.

Stakeholder Salience
Alfred Inkiriwng, Director, Indonesia
@Jaap de Jonge: The Salience of external stakeholders normative not considered have been discussed by among others by Stuart I. Hart and Sanjay Sharma in "Engaging Fringe Stakeholders for Competitive Imagination". They argue that disruptive change increasingly lies outside the organization. Fringe stakeholders could suddenly become increasingly salient.
Mitchell, Agle, Christmas & Spence emphasize that in family firms stakeholder salience is even more complex. ("Toward a Theory in Stakeholder Salience in Family Firms").
In Asia, a huge percentage of big corporations are family businesses. I fully agree what @Sandy Musallam states and that is a continuous exercise.


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