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Alain Verbeke and Vincent Tung contributed equally to this manuscript.
We propose adding a temporal dimension to stakeholder management theory, and assess the implications thereof for firm-level competitive advantage. We argue that a firm’s competitive advantage fundamentally depends on its capacity for stakeholder management related, transformational adaptation over time. Our new temporal stakeholder management approach builds upon insights from both the resource-based view (RBV) in strategic management and institutional theory. Stakeholder agendas and their relative salience to the firm evolve over time, a phenomenon well understood in the literature, and requiring what we call level 1 adaptation. However, the dominant direction of stakeholder pressures can also change, namely, from supporting resource heterogeneity at the firm level to fostering industry homogeneity, and vice versa. When dominant stakeholder pressures shift from supporting heterogeneity towards stimulating homogeneity in industry, the firm must engage in level 2 or transformational adaptation. Stakeholders typically provide valuable resources to the firm in an early stage. Without these resources, which foster heterogeneity (in line with RBV thinking), the firm would not exist. At a later stage, stakeholders also contribute to inter-firm homogeneity via isomorphism pressures (in line with institutional theory thinking). Adding a temporal dimension to stakeholder management theory has far reaching implications for this theory’s practical relevance to senior level management in business.
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- The Future of Stakeholder Management Theory: A Temporal Perspective
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