Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

PhD in Business


Department of Management

First Advisor

Cynthia Clark

Second Advisor

Anthony Buono

Third Advisor

Shawn Berman


This dissertation revisits the theory of stakeholder salience set forth by Mitchell, Agle and Wood (1997), exploring the ways in which the salience model might be expanded to more fully capture the elements to which managers pay attention, as well as the accuracy of the attributes that define stakeholders' relationship with the firm. Two main questions are investigated: (1) what stakeholder elements affect salience? (2) Which of these stakeholder elements and attributes are most relevant to the explanation of salience? In a first tense, the nuances of the concept of stakeholder salience (Eesley & Lenox, 2006; Mitchell, Agle, & Wood, 1997) are brought to light in the development of a tetrad of constructs wherein stakeholders are more accurately envisioned as groups who ask the firm to undertake a specific requested action , via a request tactic, in regard to an issue of concern, and where these four elements are expected to affect salience. In a second case, the original attributes of salience—power, legitimacy and urgency—are reconfigured along the newly-formed tetrad and the interaction between attributes is further examined. Therefore, the main contribution of this dissertation is theoretical. Grounded in the assumption that firms behave to maintain legitimacy, this new model expands the original view of salience by drawing on the social approval literature to propose new attributes of salience. Notably, this dissertation argues that group status represents a superordinate construct that captures how managers initially respond to their constituents. Likewise, it is suggested that issue prominence, requested action legitimacy and request tactic legitimacy play an important role in attracting managerial attention. Taken together, these developments enable the construction of a new model of salience, which is presented in Chapter 4. The new model is then tested in a five-year study of shareholder resolutions, representing a request tactic, submitted on a myriad of prominent social and environmental issues by shareholder groups of varying status in the U.S. to tease apart the significance of the group, issue and requested action on firms' responses to stakeholders. New research directions and managerial implications complete this document.