Skip to main content

Research Repository

See what's under the surface

When democratic principles are not enough: Tensions and temporalities of dialogic stakeholder engagement

Passetti, E; Bianchi, Lara; Battaglia, M; Frey, M


E Passetti

M Battaglia

M Frey


Stakeholder engagement and dialogue have a central role in defining the relations between organisations and their internal and external interlocutors. Drawing upon the analysis of dialogic motifs, power-conflict dynamics and socio-political perspectives, and based on a set of interviews with the stakeholders of a consumer-owned cooperative , the research explores the dialogic potential of stakeholder engagement. The analysis revealed a fragmented picture where the co-design and co-implementation aspects were mainly related to the non-business areas of cooperative life, while business logic dominated the most central aspects. Stakeholder engagement was mainly related to consensus building, while dialogic engagement based on a pluralistic understanding was only partially considered and then neglected. The social capital in the local area, the growing size of the organisation and the related power structure embrace stakeholder engagement, influencing the orientation of the (un)dialogic dynamic. The analysis indicates that a dialogic exchange is a relative concept which depends on the interests involved and the topics discussed. It also reveals that the key factors in the democratisation of stakeholder engagement are a mutual understanding and long-term opportunities. Common socio-political aspects are also important, but they do not necessarily guarantee the creation of dialogism paths. The research contributes to the critical dialogic literature in revealing whether and how stakeholder engagement has been implemented in a specific setting. It also shows the limitations of voluntarist stakeholder engagement initiatives.

Journal Article Type Article
Publication Date 2019-03
Print ISSN 0167-4544
Publisher Springer Verlag
Peer Reviewed Peer Reviewed
Volume 155
Issue 1
Pages 173–190
APA6 Citation Passetti, E., Bianchi, L., Battaglia, M., & Frey, M. (2019). When democratic principles are not enough: Tensions and temporalities of dialogic stakeholder engagement. Journal of Business Ethics, 155(1), 173–190.
Keywords stakeholder engagement; stakeholder dialogue; dialogic theory; consumer- owned co-operative; social accounting; critical dialogic accounting; dialogic accounting 2
Publisher URL
Additional Information This is a post-peer-review, pre-copyedit version of an article published in Journal of Business Ethics. The final authenticated version is available online at:


You might also like

Downloadable Citations