Understanding Stakeholders in Business: Roles, Interests, and Impact
11 min.

Who are stakeholders in business, and how do they steer a company’s journey? Stakeholders, ranging from investors and employees to governments and local communities, play pivotal roles in influencing a business’s trajectory. 

In this article, ProCoders demystifies stakeholders’ roles and their varied impacts, setting the stage for a comprehensive discussion on why understanding each stakeholder group is crucial for business strategy and success.

Key Takeaways

  • Stakeholders encompass a wide spectrum of entities that can be categorized into internal and external, as well as primary and secondary, all of whom can significantly influence company operations, success, and governance.
  • Effective stakeholder management involves identifying key stakeholders, understanding their interests and influence, engaging them through clear communication and collaboration, and adapting business strategies to balance their diverse concerns and priorities.
  • The shift towards stakeholder capitalism reflects a changing business philosophy that emphasizes the well-being of all stakeholders and the broad impacts of corporate decisions, moving beyond traditional shareholder primacy towards more inclusive and sustainable business practices.

Decoding the Spectrum of Stakeholders in Business

Stakeholders are entities, either individuals or groups, directly or indirectly linked to the operations, success, or failure of a company. They encompass a wide array of actors, including:

  • Owners
  • Employees
  • Investors
  • Suppliers
  • Communities
  • Governments

While shareholders represent stakeholders with a financial stake in an organization, the umbrella of stakeholders extends much beyond, capturing those interested in the company’s overall performance, not just stock performance. In essence, stakeholders are the lifeblood of a business, integral to its internal cohesion and goal attainment.

Historically, companies would consider the interests of all stakeholders, fostering a sense of mutual respect and embeddedness in their surroundings. This gives rise to different types of stakeholders, including:

  • Internal 
  • External 
  • Primary 
  • Secondary 

Let’s delve deeper into these categories.

Identifying Key Stakeholders

Key stakeholders in a business typically include major stakeholders such as:

  • Customers
  • Employees
  • Investors
  • Local communities
  • Suppliers
  • Government agencies

All of whom can significantly impact the business. Thus, the identification and ranking of these project stakeholders are crucial. The process involves assessing their respective demands and influence on the project or overall operations.

Identifying who the key stakeholders are is essential for the effective management of relationships and the development of a stakeholder matrix, which guides stakeholder engagement strategies. Stakeholders have varying levels of interest and influence over business projects. For example, government agencies can exert significant impact through legal and regulatory measures.

On the other hand, customers, a vital stakeholder group, have the expectation of receiving high-quality products and services at fair prices.

Internal vs. External Stakeholders

Internal stakeholders are individuals or entities with a direct connection to a company, such as through employment, ownership, or investment. On the contrary, external stakeholders are outside entities that are impacted by the company’s actions despite not being part of its internal structure. It is crucial for a company to consider the needs and expectations of both internal or external stakeholder groups in order to maintain a healthy business environment.

Internal stakeholders like employees and investors directly impact the business through their roles in the operational process. They are driven by personal interests such as job satisfaction, decision-making influence, and financial investment returns.

External stakeholders, like suppliers and community groups, impact a business indirectly through:

  • service provision
  • community relations
  • influencing operational costs
  • the company’s reputation within the community

Thus, both internal and external stakeholders play a vital role in how a business operates.

Primary vs. Secondary Stakeholders

Primary stakeholders have a direct stake in a company, while secondary stakeholders are affected indirectly by the company’s operations. Employees, for instance, interact directly with customers and have expectations for a safe and fair work environment, contributing to business operations and influencing company culture.

Investors and partners expect returns on their financial contributions and shape strategic decisions and profit management. Owners and shareholders have the most direct impact on setting business aims and making decisions, while managers influence business activities and company objectives through their decision-making.

On the other hand, the local community, as secondary stakeholders, can impact business operations indirectly through their support or opposition.

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The Influence of Stakeholders on Corporate Governance

The concept of stakeholder primacy emerged historically as a counter to the shareholder primacy model, which was advocated by figures like Milton Friedman. This concept has seen a resurgence, challenging the narrow focus of shareholder primacy by emphasizing the well-being of all stakeholders, known as stakeholder capitalism.

This shift in business philosophy underscores the importance of stakeholders and their influence on corporate governance. By incorporating the interests of all stakeholders, companies can enhance their decision-making process, foster a culture of mutual respect, and ultimately drive their success.

The Role of Stakeholders in Strategic Decisions

Key internal stakeholders like managers and owners significantly influence company strategies. Managers make daily business decisions, while owners provide capital and guidance to the organization. On the other hand, investors and partners, as external stakeholders, shape strategic decisions by weighing company reinvestment against their expected returns, sometimes occupying board seats to influence direction.

Interestingly, customers can sometimes influence company decisions more significantly than company owners, as part of a strategic approach for mutual benefit. Therefore, stakeholder management becomes pivotal in strategic corporate governance by acknowledging the influence of stakeholders who place limitations on the firm’s actions.

Stakeholders in Strategic Decisions

Balancing Diverse Stakeholder Interests

The interests of various stakeholders in a company may not always align, leading to conflicts and the challenge of balancing competing interests. Shareholders and owners, as key stakeholders, have significant influence on business decisions with their primary financial interest revolving around financial returns. In this context, they have a vested interest in the company’s success.

On the other hand, vendors and suppliers, critical stakeholders, have needs that must be integrated into business operations, affecting budgeting and scheduling. The adoption of broader stakeholder approaches in corporate governance may lead to more complex governance structures with multiple centers of authority. Balancing these diverse interests is a delicate act that companies must master for successful stakeholder management.

“The level of interest to a project might be different for each stakeholder, and we should prioritize the stakeholders who have high interest to the project.”
Mike Perepecha, Project Manager at ProCoders 
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The Art of Stakeholder Management

Stakeholder management is crucial for gaining support and buy-in for projects, preventing, influencing, or potentially hindering their success. An effective stakeholder management strategy emphasizes managing conflicts, catering to stakeholder interests, and considering their limits on company actions.

A stakeholder management plan can be used for big projects to avoid confusion:

“Stakeholder management plan is a tool to increase efficiently in managing. It is created for big projects and contains information about which stakeholder is responsible for what matters to avoid miscommunication during the project.”

Mike Perepecha, Project Manager at ProCoders

Companies like ProCoders exemplify proactive stakeholder management and integration. They support effective adaptation to stakeholder needs by allocating resources, including budget and skilled personnel, and investing in specialized tools or professionals.

Techniques for Engaging with Stakeholders

Companies can maintain stakeholder engagement and trust by sending periodic email updates, creating newsletters that transparently communicate decisions and rationale, and inviting active contributions in areas of stakeholders’ expertise. Enhanced engagement is achieved through in-person meetings, phone calls, and digital means like webinars, Slack chats, podcasts, and meetups, demonstrating that stakeholder input is highly valued.

Decision-making processes benefit from stakeholder involvement, as seen with ProCoders’ practices of frequent communication, incorporating end-user feedback, and undertaking stakeholder mapping for tailored solutions. Early identification of issues and improved policy quality can be achieved through stakeholder engagement, which acts as a mechanism to reflect community values and prevent potential complications.


Prioritizing Stakeholder Concerns

Proper stakeholder prioritization involves a thorough understanding of each stakeholder’s level of influence and interest in the company. This understanding is vital for deciding whom to engage with and manage more closely. Ethical considerations and the urgency of stakeholder claims are central to addressing diverse expectations and needs, which guides the sequence of managing stakeholder concerns.

Stakeholder prioritization is not a static process; it varies over time, with businesses needing to be agile in response to shifts in stakeholder needs and market conditions. Neglecting stakeholder management can result in a value gap, where the business value delivered falls short of what was intended, potentially harming the company’s long-term prospects.

Stakeholders’ Impact on Business Operations and Revenue Generation

Stakeholders contribute to a company’s revenue generation based on their willingness to pay for the offered goods or services. Successful businesses work on creating financial value for growth and perceived value for aspects such as customer satisfaction and a positive employee work environment.

Collaboration with stakeholders like ProCoders leads to accelerated deployment, cost-effectiveness, and reduced disruptions in IT projects.

Direct Stakeholders’ Contribution to Operations

Direct stakeholders like managers, employees, and owners contribute significantly to business operations. Managers influence daily business activities by making operational choices and implementing strategies to achieve objectives set by owners and shareholders. Employees directly contribute to meeting the company’s aims through their work performance, which can be motivated by job security, stable pay, and performance bonuses.

Offering fair compensation and growth opportunities to employees, as highlighted by Grand Canyon University’s faculty, increases their commitment, which in turn enhances their performance and contribution to operations. Owners and shareholders provide direction and funding for the business, profoundly impacting its operational strategies and long-term objectives. The level of influence owners have on decision-making varies, and their interest may range from maximizing profitability to adhering to core company principles.

Indirect Influence of External Stakeholders

Government stakeholders, although not directly involved in day-to-day business operations, can significantly affect business practices and sustainability through regulatory actions, legal frameworks, and fiscal policies. Local communities exert indirect influence on businesses by either providing support for business activities or opposing them due to the effects of the company’s operations, like pollution, which can either facilitate or hinder business expansion and operations.

Corporate social responsibility initiatives are driven by stakeholder demands, particularly as NGOs raise public awareness and pressure businesses to adopt better social and environmental practices, impacting the company’s long-term reputation and operations.

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ProCoders: A Case Study in Effective Stakeholder Integration

ProCoders, a leading IT solutions provider, presents a case study in effective stakeholder integration. With a mission to assemble unparalleled development teams that address specific tasks or establish R&D initiatives for clients, ProCoders has been recognized as one of the top 10% of global companies for its ability to deliver exceptional services in 2023. They have a clear work process which includes:

  • Sharing needs
  • Interviewing developers
  • Onboarding remote teams
  • Delivering high-quality products and support

ProCoders has brought over 150 products to life.

With expertise in SaaS, logistics, IoT, and more, ProCoders provides dedicated developers and direct communication, ensuring flexible and scalable IT solutions. Validating their attention to stakeholder security, ProCoders is ISO-IES 27001 certified, assuring adherence to best practices in data security.

Collaboration and Communication Strategies

ProCoders works hand in hand with clients to ensure the accuracy, consistency, and timeliness of information, which are critical for successful project outcomes. The company uses project management software and intranets as part of its clear communication channels to facilitate regular and transparent dialogue with stakeholders.

A collaborative culture is fostered here at ProCoders, where stakeholders are encouraged to openly share opinions, ideas, and concerns, thereby building trust and fostering mutual understanding. ProCoders also defines clear goals and roles for stakeholders, which maintains focus, avoids confusion, and ensures alignment and accountability in IT service projects.

The company’s effective collaboration is also supported by top-tier management and communication skills, which help to bridge gaps in diverse teams and guarantee a smooth progression towards project goals.

Communication Strategies

Adapting to Stakeholder Needs

ProCoders is adept at tailoring our approach to stakeholder requirements, as highlighted by our collaboration with Ushahidi. Our experts pinpointed key issues and offered guidance to the partner’s developers, resulting in considerable enhancements in the platform’s appearance and functionality. 

By focusing on essential features in the development of a mobile app for Ushahidi, our team demonstrated its capability to deliver solutions that align with stakeholder priorities and end-user requirements.

Client testimonials laud ProCoders for our proficiency in understanding client needs, selecting the appropriate developers for the task, and consistently delivering top-tier technological solutions.

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The Evolution of Stakeholder Capitalism

Stakeholder capitalism is a system that prioritizes serving the interests of all stakeholders in a corporation. This form of capitalism influences the orientation of corporations towards considering the broader impacts of their decisions on stakeholders. The resurgence of stakeholder capitalism is driven by the need to address global social, economic, and health crises, emphasizing a broader impact on all stakeholders.

This shift in business philosophy underscores the importance of stakeholders and their influence on corporate governance. By incorporating the interests of all stakeholders, companies can enhance their decision-making process, foster a culture of mutual respect, and ultimately drive their success.

Shifts in Business Philosophy

Stakeholder engagement is now seen as a fundamental aspect in defining long-term business goals and sustainability strategies. Corporate governance has transitioned from a least-inclusive approach, which prioritizes shareholder benefits, to a most-inclusive approach which regards integrating all stakeholders’ interests as both a moral duty and a prerequisite for success.

The concept of stakeholder capitalism, first introduced by Klaus Schwab over 50 years ago, challenges the traditional sole focus on maximizing shareholder value. The modern stakeholder model is comprehensive, placing emphasis on:

  • the health of the planet
  • the well-being of people
  • acknowledging the global interconnectivity of economies
  • the significance of environmental and societal factors.

Examples of Stakeholder Capitalism in Action

Stakeholder capitalism involves companies uniting with governments, civil society, and the international community to improve the well-being of people and the planet. Examples like Ryan Companies, Side by Side Pet, and Fennemore show how companies are adopting stakeholder capitalism to consider long-term community impact and foster diversity, growth, and wellbeing.

Goodmans Interior Structures and Markitors invest in areas like human services and culture, while Grand Canyon University focuses on fair employee compensation as part of their stakeholder capitalism practices. These approaches lead to the development of infrastructure, new businesses, and mutually beneficial collaborations, contributing to the long-term vibrancy of communities.


In conclusion, stakeholders play a crucial role in shaping the destiny of businesses. Their influence extends from operational processes to strategic decisions, corporate governance, and revenue generation. Companies like ProCoders exemplify effective stakeholder management, showcasing their commitment to stakeholder integration and capitalism. As we move towards an era of stakeholder capitalism, companies are adopting a more inclusive approach that considers the broader impacts of their decisions on all stakeholders. This shift promotes a culture of mutual respect, enhances decision-making processes, and fosters long-term success for both businesses and stakeholders.

Who are stakeholders in business?

Stakeholders in business include employees, customers, shareholders, suppliers, communities, and governments – basically anyone with an interest in the organization and its outcomes.

What is the stakeholders’ view on business?

The stakeholders view business as an interconnected entity that should create value for all stakeholders, not just shareholders. They have a vested interest in a company’s operations and performance, including investors, employees, customers, suppliers, communities, governments, and trade associations.

How important are stakeholders in business?

Stakeholders are crucial in business, as they contribute to a company’s success or failure. Internal stakeholders, like employees, provide essential labor, while external stakeholders, such as customers, generate revenue.

What is the role of a stakeholder?

Stakeholders have a vested interest in a project’s outcome and can significantly impact or be impacted by the business. They contribute valuable support, insight, and resources, playing a crucial role in achieving project success.

What is stakeholder capitalism?

Stakeholder capitalism prioritizes serving the interests of all stakeholders in a corporation, emphasizing the broader impacts of corporate decisions on people and the planet. It is a system that aims for a more inclusive and sustainable approach to business.

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