|news and commentary
||some ethical problems of stakeholding
||A stakeholder is a person or community that possesses
intentions and attributes value to things. A person or community
that is regarded as having a legitimate interest or "stake" in something
- for example a system or project.
Traditional business ethics defined the purpose of a business
solely in terms of satisfying the interests of the shareholders.
some businessmen wanted to recognize the legitimate interests of other
groups of people; they started to use the term
"stakeholder" rather than "shareholder". The similarity of the
two words is deliberate: it draws attention to the substitution of a
broader concept for a narrow one.
Stakeholding - Inclusive versus Exclusive
Thus use of the term stakeholder was originally to be inclusive rather
than exclusive. It leads people to argue that companies
should be run for the benefit of a range of stakeholders, including
employees, customers, suppliers and neighbours, and not
merely for the benefit of shareholders. Similarly, housing estates
should be run for the benefit of the tenants, not just the
landlords; schools for the benefit of pupils and parents, not just
the convenience of teachers; and so on. Some politicians talk
about a stakeholder society. To label a person or community
as a stakeholder is to legitimize action intended for their benefit.
To the businessman who takes the concept of stakeholder seriously, what
is important is not just the specific set of people who
are named as stakeholders, but the ongoing mission to identify and
include people who might otherwise be excluded. Similarly in
politics, the stakeholder agenda indicates a desire to recognize the
interests of the people who might otherwise be left out or
But instead, some managers and analysts seem to regard the concept of
stakeholder as exclusive. There is a closed list of
stakeholders, drawn up at the start of a project, who may be consulted
at various stages of the project. If you're not identified
as a stakeholder, then your opinion apparently doesn't matter.
For my part, I deplore the exclusive use of the stakeholder concept.
I believe the stakeholder agenda is an inclusive one, and this entails
a renewed attention on the processes associated with stakeholdership.
Stakeholding - Processes and Questions
||Who looks after the stakeholder's interests, and how?
||Who legitimates new stakeholders?
Traditional approaches to project management and requirements
engineering consider the identification of the client to be merely a matter
of correctly naming all the stakeholders.
Third order requirements
engineering understands that identification is an ongoing dynamic process,
and addresses the development (emergence) of the group identity of the
requirements owner (as well as the other participants in the requirements
Requirements can be affected by stakeholder change in at least two
||Stakeholders can be replaced by new individuals. The previous
manager's pet project may be soon discarded or reassessed by her replacement.
||The same stakeholders can alter their preferences, priorities or opinions
- perhaps as a result of changing roles or alliances.
At Veryard Projects, we understand
requirements engineering as a process affecting stakeholders themselves
as well as their stakes. We call this Third
Order Requirements Engineering.