There are a lot of different opinions on the definition of a Stakeholder. Deciding on which definition to use is important.
The decision about how to define stakeholders
[ ] is consequential, as it affects who and what counts (Mitchell et al. 1997).
For example Eden and Ackermann define stakeholders as
'People or small groups with the power to respond to, negotiate with, and
change the strategic future of the organization' (Eden and Ackermann 1998:
R. Edward Freeman, in the now classic text Strategic Management: A Stakeholder
(1984), defines a stakeholder as
'any group or individual who can affect or is
affected by the achievement of the organization's objectives' (1984: 46).
Choosing Eden and Ackermann's definition would focus an organisations' attention only on people who have the power to respond to or negotiate whereas using Freeman's definition would result in a longer list of stakeholders including those without any obvious power to impact the organisation.
In this video Freeman explains the reasoning behind his answer to the question what is a stakeholder?
The first step in managing your stakeholders then is to decide how you will define a 'Stakeholder'. This Mindmap shows some of the answers to the question What is a Stakeholder?
Text version of the mindmap.
What is a Stakeholder? Mind Map of definitions
What is a Stakeholder? list of definitions
Method or Best Practice
|Answers to the question -''What is a Stakeholder?'
|All parties who will be affected by or will affect [the organization's] strategy
||Nutt, P and Backoff, R.
|any group or individual who can affect or is affected by the achievement of the organization's objectives
||Freeman, R. E.
|Any person group or organization that can place a claim on the organization's attention, resources, or output, or is affected by that output
|Those individuals or groups who depend on the organization to fulfill their own goals and on whom, in turn, the organization depends
||Johnson, G and Scholes, K.
|A stakeholder is an individual or a group that claims to have one or more stakes in an organization. Stakeholders may affect the organization and, in turn be affected by the organization's actions, policies, practices and decisions.
||Carroll, A and Buchholtz, A.
|A person, group, or organization that has direct or indirect stake in an organization because it can affect or be affected by the organization's actions, objectives, and policies.
|Parties with an interest in the execution and outcome of a project. They would include business streams affected by or dependent on the outcome.
|Stakeholders are persons or organisations (e.g., customers, sponsors, the performing organization, or the public), who are actively involved in the project or whose interests may be positively or negatively affected by the performance or completion of the project.
|a person with an interest or concern in something, especially a business.
|1: a person entrusted with the stakes of bettors
2: one that has a stake in an enterprise
3: one who is involved in or affected by a course of action
|A person or group of people who have a vested interest in the success of an organization and the environment in which the organization operates.
|Anyone who has a vested interest in the project.
|An individual who is materially affected by the outcome of the system.
||Rational Unified Process
|A stakeholder is anybody who can affect or is affected by an organisation, strategy or project. They can be internal or external and they can be at senior or junior levels.
|Any individual, group or organization that can affect, be affected by, or perceives itself to be affected by, a programme
|One who has a stake or interest in the outcome of the project. [Note: see project stakeholders]
|A person who has an interest in an organization, project, IT service etc. Stakeholders may be interested in the activities, targets, resources or deliverables. Stakeholders may include customers, partners, employees, shareholders, owners etc. [Note: see also ITIL stakeholder list]
|a person such as an employee, customer or citizen who is involved with an organization, society, etc. and therefore has responsibilities towards it and an interest in its success
|People or small groups with the power to respond to, negotiate with, and change the strategic future of the organization
||Eden, C and Ackermann, F.
|a person external to the Scrum Team with a specific interest in and knowledge of a product that is required for incremental discovery. Represented by the Product Owner and actively engaged with the Scrum Team at Sprint Review.
What is a stakeholder? - References
Freeman, R. E. (1984) Strategic Management: A Stakeholder Approach
, p46, Boston, MA: Pitman. Latest edition
Bryson, J. (1995) Strategic Planning for Public and Nonprofit Organization (rev. edn)
, p27, San Franciso, CA: Jossey-Bass. Latest edition
Johnson, G and Scholes, K. (2002) Exploring Corporate Strategy (6th edn)
, p206, Harlow, England: Pearson Education. Latest edition
Abstracted from Association of Project Management (UK) APMP Syllabus 2nd Edition, January 2000, Abridged Glossary of Project Management Terms (Rev.4)
ITIL glossary and abbreviations
Lewis, J. P. (1995) Project Planning, Scheduling & Control
, p.39, Chicago: Irwin Professional Publishing. Latest edition
Cambridge Dictionaries Online https://dictionary.cambridge.org/dictionary/british/stakeholder_1?q=stakeholder
Mitchell, R., Agle, B. and Wood, D. 1997. Toward a Theory of Stakeholder Identification and Salience: Defining the Principle of Who and What Really Counts. The Academy of Management Review, 22 (4), pp. 853-886. Available at: https://www.jstor.org/stable/259247
[Accessed: 15 June 2013].