Stakeholder Theory and Social Identity: Rethinking Stakeholder Identification

Andrew Crane, Trish Ruebottom

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

187 Citations (SciVal)


In this article, we propose an adaption to stakeholder theory whereby stakeholders are conceptualized on the basis of their social identity. We begin by offering a critical review of both traditional and more recent developments in stakeholder theory, focusing in particular on the way in which stakeholder categories are identified. By identifying critical weaknesses in the existing approach, as well as important points of strength, we outline an alternative approach that refines our understanding of stakeholders in important ways. To do so, we draw on notions of social identity as the fundamental basis for group cohesion, mobilization, and action. A new form of cross-mapping as a basis for stakeholder identification is advanced and key research questions are set out.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)77-87
Number of pages11
JournalJournal of Business Ethics
Issue numberSUPPL.
Publication statusPublished - Mar 2011


  • Corporate responsibility
  • Identity salience
  • Social identity theory
  • Stakeholder identification and classification
  • Stakeholder theory

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Business and International Management
  • Economics and Econometrics
  • General Business,Management and Accounting
  • Law
  • Arts and Humanities (miscellaneous)


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