Academic journal article Academy of Marketing Studies Journal

Green Marketing and a Broader Stakeholder Orientation

Academic journal article Academy of Marketing Studies Journal

Green Marketing and a Broader Stakeholder Orientation

Article excerpt

INTRODUCTION

Today, a widely held view suggests that for any company to be in good standing with the public, it needs to describe its various good works. With regard to company responsibility, most socially conscious individuals identify environmental protection as a prominent topic (The Nielsen Company, 2014). Moreover, business guidelines for sustainable development often assign more relevance to the environment than to other social aspects of sustainable development (Barkemeyer, Holt, Preuss, & Tsang, 2014). Yet not all stakeholders show the same level of concern about environmental protection (Driessen & Hillebrand, 2013). Stakeholder perceptions of the human-ecological relationship differ by group and contain a diverse mix of trade-offs (Angus-Leppan, Benn, & Young, 2010). However, such diversity could be a problem for companies when integrating green commitments. For example, making a product more environmentally friendly by changing its composition to satisfy environmental nongovernmental organizations may mean sacrificing its functional properties for customers or even reaping less profit. Certainly the demands of company stakeholders are frequently diverse (Bhattacharya & Korschun, 2008), leading to potential conflicts, an idea well recognized in stakeholder theory (Frooman, 1999). However, stakeholder claims could also be aligned. If so, addressing environmental issues would not come at the expense of other stakeholder concerns. Accordingly, the question raised is whether green marketing means that companies are prioritizing the claims of a particular stakeholder (e.g., environmental groups) or are maintaining responsibility for a broader range of stakeholders.

Stakeholder theory offers easy-to-understand guidelines for managers, as most companies define their roles and responsibility with regard to at least, their traditional stakeholders (Jamali, 2008). Instrumental stakeholder theory specifically suggests that companies need to prioritize the interests of different stakeholder groups to achieve certain performance goals (Berman, Wicks, Kotha, & Jones, 1999). To better understand managerial perceptions of these possible trade-offs, Mitchell, Agle, and Wood (1997, p. 854) propose the concept of stakeholder salience, or "the degree to which managers give priority to competing stakeholder claims." In most cases, companies adopt this approach, responding to the various stakeholder demands with different levels of commitment (Hahn, Figge, Pinkse, & Preuss, 2010; Spitzeck & Hansen, 2010).

Scant empirical research has examined the management of stakeholders' demands in the marketing function (Mena & Chabowski, 2015). However, there are clear indications that marketing strategies are increasingly influenced by multiple company stakeholders (Hillebrand, Driessen, & Koll, 2015)-for example, changes in the promotion of food products to address obesity concerns raised by nongovernmental organizations, along with consideration of the preferences of customers and shareholders. Often the reconciliation of different stakeholder interests is difficult for firms (Weijo, Martin, & Schouten, 2014), thus necessitating stakeholder trade-offs (Hahn et al., 2010). As Freeman, Harrison, and Wicks (2007, p. 54) argue, however, companies should try to find ways to "keep all primary stakeholder interests going in the same direction," as stakeholder alignment is key to the creation of value (Hillebrand et al., 2015).

This article attempts to enhance understanding of company and marketing responsibility to stakeholders. It investigates companies' adoption of green marketing through the lenses of contrasting views-that is, prioritization versus alignment of stakeholder claims. The results of a survey of 507 Spanish companies indicate that green marketing reflects a broader stakeholder responsibility. The findings of this research contribute to the stakeholder and marketing literature supporting the potential for alignment of diverse stakeholders' interests to create value; thus, they have important implications for company green communications. …

Search by... Author
Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

Oops!

An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.