Journal of Public Policy & Marketing Vol. 31 (2) Fall 2012, 284-292
© 2012, American Marketing Association ISSN: 0743-9156 (print), 1547-7207 (electronic) 284
Stakeholder Theory and Marketing: Moving from a Firm-Centric to a Societal Perspective
Gene R. Laczniak and Patrick E. Murphy
This essay is inspired by the ideas and research examined in the special section on "Stakeholder Marketing" of the Journal of Public Policy & Marketing in 2010. The authors argue that stakeholder marketing is slowly coalescing with the broader thinking that has occurred in the stakeholder management and ethics literature streams during the past quarter century. However, the predominant view of stakeholders that many marketers advocate is still primarily pragmatic and company centric. The position advanced herein is that stronger forms of stakeholder marketing that reflect more normative, macro/societal, and network-focused orientations are necessary. The authors briefly explain and justify these characteristics in the context of the growing "prosociety" and "proenvironment" perspectives-orientations that are also in keeping with the public policy focus of this journal. Under the "hard form" of stakeholder theory, which the authors endorse, marketing managers must realize that serving stakeholders sometimes requires sacrificing maximum profits to mitigate outcomes that would inflict major damage on other stakeholders, especially society.
Keywords: stakeholders, marketing ethics, stakeholder theory, normative ethical theory, societal marketing concept, social responsibility
Gene R. Laczniak is Professor of Marketing, Department of Market- ing, Marquette University (e-mail: Eugene.Laczniak@marquette. edu). Patrick E. Murphy is Professor of Marketing, Mendoza College of Business, University of Notre Dame (e-mail: Murphy.email@example.com). The authors sincerely thank the anonymous reviewer for insightful comments and suggestions that greatly improved this commentary.
Stakeholder theory has finally moved "front and center"in the academic marketing literature. Bhattacharya(2010), inspired by his prior analysis on the promise of an enlightened stakeholder perspective (Bhattacharya and Korschun 2008), edited the special section on "Stakeholder Marketing" in a recent issue of Journal of Public Policy & Marketing (JPP&M). The section features ten articles that include conceptual models, empirical reports, implementa- tion schemes, and essays on various aspects of stakeholder- centric marketing. Bhattacharya remarks (p. 1, emphasis added) that "recent realities such as climate change, obesity crises, and human rights violations … are prompting compa- nies to look beyond customers as the sole target of market- ing activities and firms as the primary intended benefi- ciary…. [T]here is an urgent need for new research that adopts a broader and more inclusive stakeholder orienta- tion." For marketers even tangentially interested in stake- holder issues,...