Applying stakeholder theory in sustainability management: links, similarities, dissimilarities, and a conceptual framework

Jacob Hörisch, R. Edward Freeman, Stefan Schaltegger

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

278 Citations (Scopus)


This essay examines links, similarities, and dissimilarities between stakeholder theory and sustainability management. Based on the analysis a conceptual framework is developed to increase the applicability and the application of stakeholder theory in sustainability management. Concluding from the analysis, we identify three challenges of managing stakeholder relationships for sustainability: strengthening the particular sustainability interests of stakeholders, creating mutual sustainability interests based on these particular interest, and empowering stakeholders to act as intermediaries for nature and sustainable development. To address these challenges three interrelated mechanisms are suggested: education, regulation, and sustainability-based value creation for stakeholders.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)328-346
Number of pages19
JournalOrganization and Environment
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 19 Dec 2014
Externally publishedYes


  • Business case for sustainability
  • Conceptual framework
  • Empowering stakeholders
  • mutual interests
  • Stakeholder theory
  • Sustainability management
  • Sustainability-based value creation for stakeholders
  • Theories in sustainability management
  • Value creation

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