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news and commentary some ethical problems of stakeholding more
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.
Inclusive Agenda
Dynamic Discovery


Exclusive Agenda
Stakes Foreclosed


veryard projects - innovation for demanding change

From Shareholding to Stakeholding

veryard projects > ethics > stakeholder > shareholding

Traditional business ethics defined the purpose of a business solely in terms of satisfying the interests of the shareholders.  But
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?

veryard projects - innovation for demanding change

Stakeholder Identification

veryard projects > ethics > stakeholder > identification

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 engineering process).

veryard projects - innovation for demanding change

Stakeholder Change

veryard projects > ethics > stakeholder > change

Requirements can be affected by stakeholder change in at least two ways.
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.

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Page updated November 17th, 2003
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