Editorial: Stakeholder management in construction

Brian Atkin*, Martin Skitmore

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalEditorialResearchpeer-review

100 Citations (Scopus)


Interest in stakeholders has grown considerably since Freeman's (1984) seminal work Strategic Management: A Stakeholder Approach was published. Over 100 papers concerning what has become termed ‘stakeholder theory’ were published by 1995 alone (Donaldson and Preston, 1995, p. 65), with many more published since. Increasingly, stakeholders have been referred to in mainstream media and government communications, not just in academic texts (Friedman and Miles, 2002).

While having its origins in strategic management, stakeholder theory has been applied to a number of fields of enquiry including, more recently, construction project management. As interest in the concept of stakeholders has grown, so too has the proliferation of perspectives on the subject (Friedman and Miles, 2002). Attempts at harmonization or classification have been made (Stoney and Winstanley, 2001), with Jones' (1995) précis the most widely accepted. Jones (1995) argues that there are three main approaches to stakeholder theory: descriptive approaches, which tell us what happens; instrumental approaches, which describe what happens if; and normative approaches, which describe what should happen. Unfortunately, a heated, and sometimes personal, debate from proponents of these different approaches has overshadowed more fruitful explorations of the notion of stakeholders (see for example the exchange between Freeman, 1999; Frooman, 1999; Gioia, 1999a, 1999b; Jones and Wicks, 1999a, 1999b; Trevino and Weaver, 1999a, 1999b). In response, Freeman and McVea (2001) called for stakeholder research to turn away from pure research that focuses on the development of stakeholder theory, and instead to apply the insights of stakeholder theory to real world problems. Despite these pleas, further development of stakeholder theory has occurred with many diffuse strands emerging in the literature and leading to a somewhat confused set of definitions and perspectives. Friedman and Miles (2006) have responded by effectively updating Freeman's 1984 work to consolidate the literature on stakeholder theory, providing a solid base for practice and applied research.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)549-552
Number of pages4
JournalConstruction Management and Economics
Issue number6
Publication statusPublished - Jun 2008
Externally publishedYes


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