Does stakeholder orientation matter? : empirical evidence about power and influence in local government decision-making
Despite being in the business agenda for almost thirty years, stakeholder management is still an under explored field in the public management context. The investigation presented in this doctoral thesis aims to ensure that stakeholder management is a useful technique able to raise issues about power and interests to public organisation’s strategic management processes. Stakeholder theory is tested in an exploratory study carried out with English Local Authorities whose focus is place on decision-making. The findings derive from two distinct and complementary studies: a cross-sectional survey undertaken with chief executives based on the quantitative approach and a qualitative investigation based on cross-sectional case studies and in-depth interviews of validation. While the first study aimed to produce a reliable and comprehensive list of stakeholders able to raise issues in decision-making, the second study aimed to depict the arena in which decision-making comes about. The findings indicate that local government decision-making is a multistakeholder process in which influences are exerted according to stakeholders’ power and interest. The findings also indicate that local government managers should take into account these tissues to avoid losing resources and legitimacy from its environmental supporters. Another issue raised by the investigation is related to the ethics upon which these types of relationships are based. According to the evidence gathered throughout the investigation, the formal model of accountability does not cover the whole set of stakeholders engaged in the process.