But the thousands of managers struggling today to meet stakeholder expectations may be interested to know that only a few years ago no one bothered. The whole concept of business or project stakeholders is a relatively new phenomenon.
legal concept of a stakeholder is not new. Neither is the concept of "having a
stake" in something.
One must also presume the concept of delivering a quality product to meet the needs of the end user, customer or client is not new.
In fact, many 19th century businesses had enviable reputations for customer service. Which leads to the question: What changed?
The origin of a business stakeholder in management literature can be traced back to 1963, when the word appeared in an international memorandum at the Stanford Research Institute. Stakeholders were defined as "those groups without whose support the organization would cease to exist."
The concept of business stakeholders was also a core part of the work on systems analysis in organizations conducted by researchers at the Tavistock Institute in London, England in the late 1960s and early 1970s. The concept has since grown from those beginnings.
During the last 30 years, the people and organizations covered by the term "stakeholder" have continued to expand and evolve. Stakeholder theory now includes the concepts of corporate social responsibility, organizational theory, systems theory, customer relationship management and governance.
And in the last few years, stakeholders have come to encompass anyone with an interest in or who is affected by the work of an organization or its deliverables, or as someone who contributes to the work or its outcome.
Now that the idea of a stakeholder has come of age in the project world, the new challenge is stakeholder relationship management maturity. Organizations that develop this capability quickly are likely to have a significant competitive advantage--at least until their competitors catch up.