Stakeholder Politics – Social Capital, Sustainable Development and the Corporation – 2009

Author: Robert Boutilier
Publisher: Greenleaf Publishing, Sheffield
Pages: 248, HDBK
ISBN: 13: 9781906093150

Many companies struggle with the many different, often conflicting, components of stakeholder politics and often suffer at the hands of cross plays within groupings and power structures. This book explains the “hows” and “whys” of those politics, with case studies, and empowers the reader to understand the dynamics and therefore be better placed to manage the dissent, disagreement and disillusionment.

I recall a particularly tough stakeholder meeting at a mine where I was involved and an exasperated manager came out of the meeting and barked, “I’m a miner, not a b#@%^y social worker!”. His frustration came from a confusion and lack of understanding of the perspectives of his stakeholders.

Bouilier starts by asking why corporations should care about sustainable development and then gradually moves through sustainability performance measurements, stakeholder relationships, social capital explanation, through to the mapping of values, priorities and issues and finally arrives at “inter-sectoral complementarity”…(or, in plain English, stakeholders appreciating each others role, function and needs.) He uses physical networks to explain and understand conflict and cooperation between different stakeholder groups and uses some excellent case studies to illustrate his logic. He summarises each chapter carefully and poses some focussed and searching questions at the end of each chapter to enable the reader to take his own situation and experience and put it into perspective.

Recommended for Social responsibility, Community Affairs or Sustainability Managers. This may not be every sustainability or environmental practitioner’s “cup of tea” but for those who deal with community groups and political stakeholders, there will be many points that ring true and a few others which may cause “the little light bulb in the head” to go on with a distinct ping!