Are You Talking to Me? Stakeholder Communication and the Risks and Rewards of Dialogue
Chapter 2 in Andriof, J., Waddocl, S., Husted, B, and Sutherland Rahman, S. 2003. Unfolding Stakeholder Thinking 2: Relationships, Communication, Reporting and Performance. Sheffield: Greenleaf: 39-52, 2003
32 Pages Posted: 15 Dec 2013
Date Written: 2003
This chapter critically examines emerging trends in stakeholder and communications theory in order to examine different modes of communication among stakeholder groups. We consider first the impacts of a complex understanding of stakeholder relations on one-way communication models that offer alternatives of standardizing or tailoring messages. Then, we deal with more interactive forms of communication, focusing specifically on the issue of stakeholder dialogue. We suggest that although stakeholder “dialogue” is a notion that has become popular in consulting and corporate vernaculars, in our view, its conditions and consequences have been little examined and are poorly understood. We contend that the current level of debate leaves unresolved important questions regarding the fundamental meanings of dialogue. Moreover, contrary to accepted wisdom, we argue that more involved and interactive modes of stakeholder dialogue surface important, and as yet, unexamined problems. In particular, we propose the very real possibility for stakeholder dialogue to lead to issues of cacophony, identity fragmentation, and organizational paralysis.
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