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Increased stakeholder dialogue and the internet: Towards greater corporate accountability or reinforcing capitalist hegemony?

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal article

Published
<mark>Journal publication date</mark>10/2004
<mark>Journal</mark>Accounting, Organizations and Society
Issue number7
Volume29
Number of pages23
Pages (from-to)685-707
Publication statusPublished
Original languageEnglish

Abstract

Stakeholder dialogue is a cornerstone of many recent developments in corporate social and environmental governance and accountability practices. Two key problems associated with these stakeholder engagement initiatives are: identifying and reaching a wide range of stakeholders; and determining a consensus set of stakeholder expectations from a range of potentially mutually exclusive views held by different stakeholders. This paper addresses both of these issues. It firstly examines the moral consensus building discourse criteria of an ideal speech situation advocated by Jürgen Habermas, and proposes these criteria as a suitable theoretical model for determining a consensus set of social, environmental, economic and ethical responsibilities to be addressed by an organisation. Secondly, it investigates the extent to which the interactivity and wide reach offered by the internet could assist in realising the theoretical potential of an ideal speech situation debate in practice, and thus facilitate democratic debates leading to a greater degree of equity in the determination of corporate social, environmental, economic and ethical responsibilities. This exploration is informed by analysis of Shell's internet based stakeholder dialogue 'web forum' against the theoretical consensus building discourse ethics criteria of an ideal speech situation. © 2004 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.