Stakeholder marketing: theoretical foundations and required capabilities
This conceptual paper argues that the marketing discipline should move away from its rather restrictive focus on customers toward a view of marketing that acknowledges the interrelatedness of stakeholders. Building on multiplicity theory, this paper presents stakeholder marketing as a revised perspective on marketing that views stakeholder networks as continuous instead of discrete multiplicities. This revised perspective offers a better understanding of stakeholder networks where (1) value exchange has become complex rather than dyadic, (2) tension between stakeholder interests has become explicit rather than implicit, and (3) control over marketing activities has become dispersed rather than centralized. The paper conceptualizes capabilities required by firms for dealing with each of these three transitions: systems thinking, paradoxical thinking, and democratic thinking. The paper discusses implications for firm performance, marketing theory, empirical research, and marketing practice and argues that embracing stakeholder marketing helps to reclaim territory for marketing in academia and business.