13.10.2009 r.

Wywiad z dr Robertem Boutilier

O zastosowaniu teorii sieci przy mapowaniu interesariuszy i najnowszych rozwiązaniach w tej dziedzinie rozmawiamy z dr Robertem Boutilier, badaczem, wykładowcą i konsultantem.
Dr Boutilier jest prezesem firmy doradczej prowadzącej badania w zakresie relacji pomiędzy interesariuszami Robert Boutilier & Associates, a także współpracownikiem Centre for Sustainable Community Development przy Uniwersytecie im. Simon’a Fraser’a. Od wielu lat zajmuje się badaniami sieci interesariuszy i kwestii z nimi związanych. Stworzył uznaną metodę analizy interesariuszy. Stakeolder360. Wywiad przeprowadziliśmy przy okazji jego wizyty w październiku 2009 roku w Polsce.

Could you please introduce our readers to the concept of stakeholders network?

Stakeholders are defined as those people or groups who are affected by a company or who can have an effect upon a company. Today the definition is being expanded to include people who are affected by a shared social problem or who can have an effect upon it.

The second definition removes the company from the centre of the network and places it in the position of a participant in solving shared problems. That’s something new about stakeholder theory. It came from France where professor Julia Roloff has expanded the definition.

So now the implication of this expanded definition is that companies are not necessarily at the centre of the stakeholders network. It depends on the stake or the issue defining the stake. This expanded definition emphasizes how companies depend on other organizations for their survival, or at least for the achievement of their strategies. 

What are the latest developments in stakeholder network mapping?

Stakeholder network mapping is the development itself. It is an application of a branch of sociology called social network analysis to a branch of management theory called stakeholder theory.

So it’s the idea that stakeholders are members of networks and all of the knowledge we have about the social networks can be applied to the challenge of understanding and working with stakeholders.

Social network analysis has already been applied to understanding the networks inside the corporations. Stakeholder network analysis is the extension of that to the environment surrounding the corporation.

Are there any particular situations in which application of the stakeholder network mapping is the most suitable?

I am often asked to help companies understand their stakeholder networks after they have begun to have problems with their stakeholders. It’s always better to understand your sociopolitical environment before problems happen.

There are times when it’s not possible to get a good picture of your stakeholder network. For example in places where there is a civil war or the heavy presence of organized crime it is very difficult to get a clear picture of the stakeholder network. But other than that it is always a good idea to understand your sociopolitical environment and to understand the linkages among those stakeholders who can affect your access to strategically important resources. So that’s the bottom line. I am giving you a business-based justification here.

There is also a justification for doing stakeholder network analysis based on how it contributes to sustainable development goals.

One of the things I have noticed is that when companies look for situations where they can win and their stakeholders can win, when they start to talk to their stakeholders about that, they usually find something. Companies that are not looking for win-win situations with their stakeholders won’t find any. So if they have their eyes open to how they can participate in solving problems that affect them and everyone else, they can find mutually beneficial ways. 

What must managers remember when mapping their stakeholder networks?

Number one – include groups that don’t like your company. They are part of the network.

Number two
– think about the stakeholders who are interested in another higher level of definition of the problem. For example a company that has a problem with the carbon emissions may think about other stakeholders’ stake in climate change. When they think about their stakeholder universe or network in these broader terms it is easier to become aware of other potential allies or groups that you would be able to develop a positive relationship with.

Number three
- sustainability and CSR are the responsibility of all divisions of a company, and all parts of a company have stakeholders, So it is important to think about what message the company is sending to the stakeholder network from all its divisions. 

Why did you decide to write the book? Was there any particular reason or was the idea growing on you for a long time?

I begun to work in this area probably in 1999 and did project after project without having a chance to stop and extract all the knowledge I have gained. I did not have time to communicate what I had learnt. I wanted to get the ideas out to the world as soon as possible. My other option was to publish academic journal articles but they often take about 3 years to publish and are very narrow in scope. So I thought the book was the right vehicle.

Why did you title your book stakeholder politics ?

I think that in this book I tried to put stakeholder engagement and sustainability in general, into a broader historical perspective which shows the development of both ideas.

Originally a lot of the approaches drew support from anti-business socio-political movements but it has become much more complex and integrated into the mainstream of business today. However, that has made the political aspects  more important in business strategy today.
I wrote this mostly for managers and vice-presidents of sustainability who are often dealing with stakeholders who criticize the company and it iscriticism that affects company’s reputation.

Therefore, they are dealing with a type of grassroots politics. I don’t like the term “stakeholder management” because it implies that you can manage politics. You can’t manage politics. The best you can do is to learn how to navigate safely to where you want to go on the stormy seas of politics. 

Thank you for the conversation.

Wywiad poprowadziła Iza Pastuszyńska, CSRinfo

Niedługo na stronie recenzja "Stakeholder Politics".

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