Stakeholder Management Strategies: The Special Case of Universities

  •  Germaine Chan    


Universities must secure stakeholder support to ensure the successful implementation of most initiatives. However, given the shared governance structures and collegial cultures of many universities, what strategies do university leaders enact to obtain stakeholder support? Although several stakeholder management and organizational response models have been proposed, there is limited empirical research on the actual strategies university leaders use to secure stakeholder support. This study focuses mainly on university academics - a powerful, autonomous, and intelligent stakeholder group whose support for most higher education initiatives is essential. Guided by a theoretical stakeholder management model, this research examines the strategies university leaders employ to manage this salient and sometimes adversarial group with respect to a major organizational change initiative. The evidence shows that university leaders use strategies that centre mostly on themes of shared goals, consensus, partnerships and engagement, which align with the strategies proposed by the theoretical model. However, to manage non-supportive stakeholders peer influence is enacted rather than the defend strategy recommended by the theoretical model. As a result, this study contributes to stakeholder management theory and proposes a revised stakeholder management model that is particularly applicable to the higher education sector.

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