The social nature of stakeholder utility perceptions

Research output: Contribution to conferencePaperpeer-review

2 Scopus citations


For positive or negative, one stakeholder's perceptions of utility derive in part from his/her perceptions of the utility that other stakeholders of the business are receiving. Yet, to date, the stakeholder literature has not explored the social aspects of these perceptions of utility in a nuanced way. The prevailing view in the literature is that stakeholders will monitor other stakeholders' interests and react negatively to their mistreatment and positively to their favorable treatment. We expand that view by predicting a wider range of reactions by the focal stakeholder to the business's treatment of other stakeholders. The model we offer in this conceptual paper pertains to how the other stakeholder will serve three different roles with respect to the focal stakeholder's utility judgments: a symbolic representation of the business's value systems, a referent for equity comparisons, and either a perceived competitor for resources or a perceived facilitator of them. Our theory adds complexity and predictive value to the traditional view of generalized exchange'a concept that lies at the core of stakeholder theory. Further, we provide a more complete understanding of stakeholder utility than currently exists. Finally, we contribute to understanding the challenge of managing divergent and sometimes competing stakeholder interests.

Original languageEnglish (US)
StatePublished - 2018
Event78th Annual Meeting of the Academy of Management, AOM 2018 - Chicago, United States
Duration: Aug 10 2018Aug 14 2018


Other78th Annual Meeting of the Academy of Management, AOM 2018
Country/TerritoryUnited States

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Management Information Systems
  • Management of Technology and Innovation
  • Industrial relations


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