Resource Dependence, Managerial Discretion and Stakeholder Performance
Shawn L. Berman
Santa Clara University
Robert A. Phillips
University of Richmond - Robins School of Business
University of Virginia - Darden School of Business
Despite its remarkable rise in popularity, stakeholder theory continues to be criticized for a dearth of empirical studies as well as ambiguity in the underlying theory. Several scholars have argued that resource dependence theory provides a useful lens through which to view firm-stakeholder relationships (Frooman 1999; Mitchell, Agle, & Wood 1997; Rowley 1997). There may, however, be reason to question the extent of this proposed theoretical bolster due to differences in assumptions and prescriptions between the two theories. To test this proposed linkage, we introduce "stakeholder performance" as a measure of how well stakeholders are treated by the firm. We develop resource dependence-based hypotheses concerning stakeholder performance based on Boyd's (1990, 1995) operationalization of the three dimensions of environmental uncertainty identified by Dess & Beard (1984): munificence, dynamism, and complexity. As anticipated, these initial tests returned equivocal results. We follow up these results by considering the effects of different levels of managerial discretion (Hambrick & Finkelstein 1987) on stakeholder performance. We find that, under conditions of greater managerial discretion, stakeholder performance increases. Differences between resource dependence and stakeholder theory are elaborated and implications for future research are discussed.
Number of Pages in PDF File: 44
Keywords: managerial discretion, resource dependence, stakeholders, stakeholder performance
JEL Classification: M19, L10, L20
Date posted: June 12, 2006
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