Conceptions of stakeholder engagement: the potential of a governmentality approach

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Based on Mitchell Dean’s refined conception of governmentality, this paper examines the specific conditions under which stakeholder engagement and dialogue initiatives generate effects in defining, maintaining and transforming the relationship between organizations and stakeholders.
The paper overcomes the atomistic view of stakeholder engagement research by virtue of a holistic exploration of how these practices have evolved into technologies of government. Through a reflexive analytical framework in which Dean’s analytically separable elements are intertwined this study examines how organizations engage with stakeholders in relation to sustainability related issues as captured in academic research from 1993 to 2013. The four analytics of government are proposed as a means to examine the systematic ways of exercising power and authority. This allows some interrogation about the ways in which stakeholder engagement is constituted thus providing some directions about how it can become enabling rather than disabling of corporate accountability.
This paper reflects on the consequences that accounting logics and practices may have for organizations and society and responds to calls for more detailed empirical studies on the extension of accounting and accountability-type technologies into stakeholder engagement and considers the possible implications for the development of a holistic accountability practice more generally.  
Original languageEnglish
Publication statusPublished - 2014
EventCritical Perspectives on Accounting - Shulich School of Business, Toronto, Canada
Duration: 6 Jul 20149 Jul 2014


ConferenceCritical Perspectives on Accounting


  • Stakeholder Engagement
  • Sustainability
  • Dialogue
  • Governmentality

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