Stakeholders are any individuals or groups who may be affected by an organization’s decisions and their consequences. Internal stakeholders include employees, managers and board members. Stakeholders outside the organization such as suppliers, customers, shareholders, the government and the public at large may also be affected.
Stakeholder values and concerns reflect what stakeholders believe to be important, which in turn affects how they tend to react to the possible consequences of the organization’s decisions. Stakeholders may place more or less importance on, for example, short-term gain or long-term sustainability, employee well-being or employee output, organizational reputation or profitability, and participation in decision- making or top-down control. Organizations that serve or respond to different stakeholders can reach very different decisions on the basis of the same evidence (compare ExxonMobil and Greenpeace, for example).
Gathering evidence from stakeholders is not just important for ethical reasons. Understanding stakeholder values and concerns also provides a frame of reference from which to analyze evidence from other sources. It provides important information about the way in which decisions will be received and whether the outcomes of those decisions are likely to be successful.