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European Business Review





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Sustainability, stakeholder theory, collective stakeholder influence, change potential, anonymity, legacy


Purpose –Given the current ecological state of the planet organizations now need to develop their sustainability to a significantly greater extent and at a faster pace. This paper proposes stakeholder collectives as a means for rapid and comprehensive sustainability, while also examining the moderating influence of firm size and change potential.

Design/methodology/approach – A theoretical analysis leads to the development of multiple propositions. The work concentrates on one research question: How can we bring about rapid and comprehensive organizational sustainability?

Findings – Arguments for the inability of individual stakeholders to drive the level of sustainability now required are presented. Propositions suggesting that sustainability can be obtained through stakeholder collectives, moderated by firm size and the change potential of the firm are developed.

Research limitations/implications – Research using stakeholder theory has examined intra-stakeholder group collective action, but arguably the more important, inter-stakeholder group collective action, has received little attention. We elaborate the prospects for collective stakeholder influence strategies as useful for increasing sustainability.

Social implications – Stakeholders seeking to further sustainability can unite around a common purpose to further increase their power, legitimacy and urgency. They might also specifically target organizations of a larger size and with rapid change potential, and lastly, encourage anonymity.

Originality/value – The main contribution is the nexus between stakeholder influence strategies and the collective goal of sustainability. By examining an underdeveloped component of stakeholder theory we answer the question how stakeholders can drive the extensive and rapid organizational sustainability now required.


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