Stakeholder Power and Organizational Learning in Corporate Environmental Management

Organization Studies, Vol. 27, No. 2, pp. 235-263, 2006

47 Pages Posted: 25 May 2007

See all articles by Nigel Roome

Nigel Roome

Université Libre de Bruxelles (ULB); Tilburg University

Frank Wijen

KU Leuven - Brussels Campus


The literatures on stakeholder engagement by companies and organizational learning give little consideration to the power (or influence) of stakeholders to affect the process or content of organizational learning. These literatures generally assume that common ground between companies and their stakeholders can be established as a prerequisite for learning, that learning is a quasi-autonomous process unaffected by the motives or power of stakeholders, and that actors have the power to fulfil roles that are critical in fostering learning. The paper seeks to address these omissions, examining how and why stakeholder power and organizational learning interact, drawing on comparative case studies of the environmental management practices found in two major companies. The evidence from these cases suggests a complex relationship between the ambition of company goals, the structure of learning, and the influence of stakeholders on the process and outcomes of learning. Exploitative learning routines were effective when stakeholder influences converged, whereas explorative learning took place without convergence but the implementation of this learning was hampered. We suggest that this raises important issues for companies that seek to undertake both exploitative and explorative learning and that future studies of organizational learning should take more explicit account of the effects of stakeholder power.

Keywords: Power, Influence, Stakeholders, Organizational Learning, Environmental Management

JEL Classification: M10

Suggested Citation

Roome, Nigel and Wijen, Frank, Stakeholder Power and Organizational Learning in Corporate Environmental Management. Organization Studies, Vol. 27, No. 2, pp. 235-263, 2006, Available at SSRN:

Nigel Roome

Université Libre de Bruxelles (ULB) ( email )

CP 132 Av FD Roosevelt 50
Brussels, Brussels 1050

Tilburg University ( email )

P.O. Box 90153
Tilburg, DC Noord-Brabant 5000 LE

Frank Wijen (Contact Author)

KU Leuven - Brussels Campus ( email )

Warmoesberg 26
Brussel, 1000

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