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ABIS GlobalProjectsManaging Stakeholder Media

Managing Stakeholder Media

This project mapped and quantified the dynamics of “stakeholder” information media and their impacts on business, at a moment when these media platforms are supplanting news media as key vectors of opinion and action. The goal is to validate hypotheses of predictive value for business communication in CSR initiatives.


Stakeholder media are not identical to “social media” – though ironically, they are more influential in many cases. Certainly, social media such as Facebook may be used by stakeholder groups. But the primary purpose of stakeholder media is not to make friends. Stakeholder media drive solutions to perceived issues.

Stakeholder media has been shown to generate potent effects on firms:

  • In a consumer boycott, stakeholder media drove down the firm’s market cap by 30% after news media declared victory for the firm;
  • Consumer forums not only shape successful products, but also impact prices, “equalising” new brands with high-spending incumbents;
  • An alliance of employees with stakeholder media led to the subversion of BP’s “Beyond Petroleum” rebranding campaign.

Organisations responding to stakeholders “by the book” are often blind-sided by practices that aren't in the books yet. Firms that succeed in dialoguing with stakeholder media are still rare. The objective is to define that dialogue.

Research Questions

  1. How stakeholder media change the effects of media, especially in setting public agendas, with or without the news media. This has implications not only for reputation and crisis management, but also for marketing and branding.
  2. How communities of influence are formed with and through stakeholder media. How does stakeholder media attract participants and connect to other stakeholders? This has implications for firms facing protest, as well as firms seeking to create or manage customer communities.
  3. How organisations may engage and dialogue with stakeholder media. Here we are investigating rules of engagement appropriate to stakeholder media (for example, the ethics of stakeholder “news”). The key here is that firms cannot control stakeholder media; how, then, to influence (and be influenced by) them?


  • "Stakeholder Media: The Trojan Horse of Corporate Responsibility",
  • Mark L. Hunter, Luk N. Van Wassenhove, Maria Besiou, (2010). INSEAD Working Paper.
  • "The Equalizer: Measuring and Explaining the Impact of Online Communities on Consumer Markets", Mark L. Hunter and David A. Soberman, (2009), INSEAD working paper.
  • "Beyond Control: Crisis strategies and stakeholder media in the Danone boycott of 2001", Mark L. Hunter, Marc Le Menestrel and Henri-Claude De Bettignies, (2008), Corporate Reputation Review, Vol. 11, 2008, pp. 335–350.
  • Connect with the project on Facebook here 

Members Involved

INSEAD, Johnson & Johnson

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