Multistakeholder Agency: Stakeholder Benefit Alignment and National Institutional Contexts

Journal of Management, Ahead of Print.
The alignment among multiple stakeholder benefits is a valuable performance indicator for the benefits generated by a firm for various stakeholders. Our research seeks to augment stakeholder-agency theory with an institutional perspective to analyze how national institutions affect stakeholder benefit alignment. We suggest that the current development of stakeholder-agency theory has overlooked the alignment of different stakeholders’ benefits and the external institutional contexts as critical determinants in ensuring such alignment. We conceptualize stakeholder benefit alignment as a positive relationship between different stakeholder groups’ benefits, and propose an institutional framework grounded in relative stakeholder salience. Using this framework, we argue that stakeholder benefits are better aligned when national institutions enhance the ease of withdrawal, legal protection, and private enforcement for intrinsically less salient stakeholders, and when a long-term oriented culture characterizes a society. We found supportive evidence by employing a meta-analytic approach based on 530 correlations from 94 primary studies representing 23 economies. Our study adds new insights to the stakeholder-agency literature by conceptualizing and quantitatively examining the degree of alignment across different stakeholder benefit dimensions, focusing on national formal and informal institutions as boundary conditions.

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