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Goals, Stakeholder Voice and Organizational Learning

Special issue call for papers from The Learning Organization

Please visit the following link to view the Organization Learning Model (adapted from Schneper, Wernick & Von Glinow, 2013):

The concept of organizational goals has played a vital role in the study of management and organizations since the dawn of the field. In an article that helped define the discipline, Parsons (1956) stressed how it was goals that set organizations apart from other types of social entities. (see also Selznick, 1949). Despite this early emphasis, organizational goals have often been relegated to a secondary status in organizational scholarship. Strategic management scholars along with financial economists, for example, frequently presume that the goal of the publicly-held firm is to maximize profits and shareholder value (Jensen, 2001). By contrast, many organizational sociologists contend that survival quickly gains precedence in many firms regardless of the entity's originally stated objectives (Pfeffer, 1997, 2013). Given the increasing number of organizational forms and financing options that business enterprises can pursue (Davis, 2016a; 2016b), as well as the high degree of cross-country diversity in economic and institutional environments (Hall and Soskice, 2003; Haxhi and Aguilera, 2016), these types of assumptions regarding organizational goals merit further scrutiny.

A different concept that continues to grow in prominence in the management literature is that of the stakeholder (Örtenblad, 2013; Örtenblad et al., 2015). According to Freeman’s (1984, p. 46) famous definition, stakeholders are “any group or individual who can affect or who is affected by the achievement of the organization’s objectives.” Some subsequent research has been aimed at determining which stakeholder groups hold the most sway over organizations and their environments (e.g., Mitchell et al., 1997). Cross-country differences in the allocation of legal rights and power to various types of stakeholders — and the ability of these groups to express voice — has been argued to shape such organizational outcomes as the types of practices adopted by firms (Guillén and Schneper, 2004) and even widely-held beliefs about the role of the business corporation in society (Soleimani et al., 2014). While stakeholder research has traditionally stressed the influence of so-called primary stakeholder groups (including shareholders, employees, and creditors), some recent studies have emphasized the potential impact that secondary stakeholders (including activist groups, the media, and non-governmental organizations) can have on corporate behavior (Eesley and Lenox, 2006; King, 2008).

The potential impact of both organizational goals and stakeholders on organizational learning can be illustrated through an examination of the learning feedback model shown in Figure 1 (see also Schneper et al., 2013). Firms formulate strategies and enact practices in order to achieve organizational goals. Stakeholder voice serves as an important source of feedback that helps firms modify their strategies and approach. The types of goals that firms pursue can be influenced by the extent that various stakeholder groups enjoy power and exercise their voice (see Hirschman, 1970; Van Buren and Greenwood, 2009).

The purpose of this special issue is to further explore the relationship between organizational goals, stakeholders, and organizational learning. This special issue encourages original empirical research (both quantitative and qualitative), as well as theoretical papers that build upon prior scholarship. Suggested topics for papers include, but are not limited to the following:

 - Under what conditions is stakeholder feedback most likely to contribute to organizational learning? When will firms be most receptive to stakeholder voice?

- The role of full voice meaningfulness (see Shapiro, 2016; Verbeke et al., 2017). Can organizational learning be facilitated by listening to all stakeholders, including those on the frontier, and not just those in the mainstream and most powerful?

- How do the goals, strategies, and practices of firms pursuing new organizational forms and initiatives (e.g., public-benefit corporations, certified B corporations) new funding models (e.g., crowdfunding) differ from traditional corporation in actual practices. What is the impact on organizational learning and effectiveness?

- What is the role played of various types of secondary shareholders (including non-governmental organizations) in organizational learning?

- Are traditional forms of media becoming less vital as sources of stakeholder voice? To what extent has the so-called new media (including social media) supplanted the more traditional media forms in terms of capturing organizational attention? How does “fake news” affect organizational learning?

- Under what conditions do various corporate governance and economic systems (e.g., shareholder-centered versus stakeholder-centered models; liberal market versus coordinated market economies) provide a better environment for organizational learning and effectiveness?

- What is the role that various stakeholder groups play in the adoption of different types of practices (human resource management, corporate sustainability, marketing, corporate governance)?




The submission deadline for full papers is 30th November 2017. The Special Issue is scheduled to appear in late 2018 or early 2019.


Guest Editors

William D. Schneper is an Assistant Professor of Organization Studies and Management at Franklin & Marshall College in Lancaster, Pennsylvania, United States. His research interests are at the intersection of corporate governance, strategic management and international business. His current research focuses upon the impact of stakeholders on firm performance and behavior, and the role of the modern business corporation in society. His publications have appeared in Administrative Science Quarterly and Organization Science, among others. (E-mail: [email protected]

David Wernick is Senior Lecturer in the Department of Management and International Business at Florida International University. His research focuses on global business strategy, innovation, and sustainable enterprise. He is the author of numerous academic and policy-oriented studies on global business, including the book chapter “Innovation in Africa: A View from the Peaks and Hilltops of a Spiky Continent,” in Innovation in Emerging Markets, Palgrave Macmillan (2016).

Mary Ann Von Glinow is the Knight Ridder eminent Scholar Chair in International Management at Florida International University in Miami, FL, USA. She is a former President of the Academy of Management and the Academy of International Business. She is the Senior Editor of the Journal of International Business Studies (JIBS). Her research is largely related to "contextualization" in IB Research but spans a number of conceptual disciplines. 



Davis, G.F. (2016a), “What might replace the modern corporation? Uberization and the web page enterprise”, Seattle University Law Review, Vol. 39 No. 2, pp. 501-515.

Davis, G.F. (2016b), The Vanishing American Corporation: Navigating the Hazards of a New Economy, Berrett-Koehler, San Francisco, CA.

Eesley C. and Lenox, M. (2006), “Firm responses to secondary stakeholder action”, Strategic Management Journal, Vol. 27 No. 8, pp. 765-781. 

Freeman, R.E. (1984), Strategic Management: A Stakeholder Approach, Pitman, Boston, MA.

Hall, P.A. and Soskice, D. (2003), Varieties of Capitalism: The Institutional Foundations of Competitive Advantage, Oxford University Press, Oxford.

Haxhi, I. and Aguilera, R.V. (2016), “An institutional configurational approach to cross-national diversity in corporate governance”, Journal of Management Studies, doi:10.1111/joms.12247

Hirschman, A.O. (1970), Exit, Voice and Loyalty: Responses to Decline in Firms, Organizations, and States, Harvard University Press, Cambridge, MA.

Jensen, M.C. (2001), “Value maximization, stakeholder theory, and the corporate objective function”, Journal of Corporate Finance, Vol. 14 No. 3, pp. 8-21.

King, B. (2008), “A political mediation model of corporate response to social movement activism”, Administrative Science Quarterly, Vol. 53 No. 3, pp. 395-421.

Laplume, A.O., Sonpar, K. and Litz, R.A. (2008), “Stakeholder theory: Reviewing a theory that moves us”, Journal of Management, Vol. 34 No. 6, pp. 1152-1189.

Mitchell, R.K, Agle, B.R. and Wood, D.J. (1997), “Toward a theory of stakeholder identification and salience: Defining the principle of who and what really counts”, Academy of Management Review, Vol. 22 No. 4, pp. 853-886.

Örtenblad, A. (2013), “Who is the learning organization for? A stakeholder contingency approach to contextualizing managerial panaceas”, in Örtenblad, A. (Ed.), Handbook of Research on the Learning Organization, Edward Elgar Publishing, Cheltenham, UK and Northampton, MA, USA, pp. 289-305.

Örtenblad, A., Hsu, S-w., & Lamb, P. (2015), "A stakeholder approach to advising on the relevance of fashionable management ideas", in Örtenblad, A. (Ed.), Handbook of Research on Management Ideas and Panaceas: Adaptation and Context, Edward Elgar Publishing, Cheltenham, UK and Northampton, MA, USA, pp. 380-396.

Parsons, T. (1956), “Suggestions for a sociological approach to the theory of organizations-I” Administrative Science Quarterly, Vol. 1 No. 1, pp. 63-85.

Pfeffer, J. (1997), New Directions in Organization Theory: Problems and Prospects, Oxford University Press, Oxford.

Pfeffer, J. (2013), “You’re still the same: Why theories of power hold over time and across contexts”, Academy of Management Perspectives, Vol. 27 No. 4, pp. 269-280.

Schneper, W.D. and Guillén, M.F. (2004), Stakeholder rights and corporate governance: A cross-national study of hostile takeovers”, Administrative Science Quarterly, Vol. 9 No. 2, pp. 263-295.

Schneper, W.D., Wernick, D.A. and Von Glinow, M.A. (2013), “Stakeholder voice, corporate dysfunction and change: An organizational learning perspective”, in Burke, R.J. and Cooper, C.L. (Eds.), Voice and Whistleblowing in Organizations: Overcoming Fear, Fostering Courage and Unleashing Candor, Edward Elgar Publishing, Cheltenham, UK and Northampton, MA, USA, pp. 113-136.

Selznick, (1948), “Foundations of the theory of organization”, American Sociological Review, Vol. 13 No. 1, pp. 25-35.

Shapiro, D. (2016), “Full voice meaningfulness in the Academy of Management”, Presidential Speech, August 7, 2016, Anaheim, CA.

Soleimani, A., Schneper, W.D. and Newburry, W. (2014), “The impact of stakeholder power on corporate reputation: A cross-county corporate governance perspective”, Organization Science, Vol. 25 No. 4, pp. 991-1008.

Van Buren, H.J. and Greenwood, M. (2009), “Stakeholder voice: A problem, a solution and a challenge for managers and academics”, Philosophy of Management, Vol. 8 No. 3, pp. 15-23.

Verbeke, A., Von Glinow, M.A. and Luo, Y. (2017), “Becoming a great reviewer: Four actionable guidelines”, Journal of International Business Studies, Vol. 48 No. 1, pp. 1-9.

Wernick, D. (2016), “Innovation in Africa: A View from the Peaks and Hilltops of a Spiky Continent”, in Haar, J. and Ernst, R. (eds.), Innovation in Emerging Markets, Palgrave Macmillan, New York, NY, pp. 121-139.