City Research Online

Engaging stakeholders during intergovernmental conflict: How political attributions shape stakeholder engagement

Esper, S. C., Barin-Cruz, L. & Gond, J-P. ORCID: 0000-0002-9331-6957 (2023). Engaging stakeholders during intergovernmental conflict: How political attributions shape stakeholder engagement. Journal of Business Ethics, doi: 10.1007/s10551-023-05448-3


When conflicts regarding industrial operations erupt between countries, relationships between corporations and stakeholders may be affected. We combine insights from stakeholder theory and studies on government and corporate social responsibility to investigate how intergovernmental politics shapes stakeholder engagement. Relying on attribution theory and a qualitative analysis of the Finnish Metsä-Botnia (hereafter Botnia) company during the intergovernmental conflict between Uruguay and Argentina, we explore the mediating role of political attributions—defined as the stakeholder network actors’ inferences regarding governmental motives—in the process by which intergovernmental politics shapes stakeholder engagement. We induce three types of political attributions: instrumentalizing, which points to the undeclared instrumental motives of governments; radicalizing, which refers to the beliefs that governments immoderately intensify confrontation; and acting in bad faith, which relates to the perceptions that governments act in inconsistent and/or morally inappropriate ways. Our results show how these attributions combine in specific configurations to explain how intergovernmental politics shapes stakeholder engagement throughout the conflict. Our study theorizes the role of governments as stakeholders in stakeholder engagement and expands organizational studies of attribution to the stakeholder and global levels.

Publication Type: Article
Additional Information: This version of the article has been accepted for publication, after peer review and is subject to Springer Nature’s AM terms of use, but is not the Version of Record and does not reflect post-acceptance improvements, or any corrections. The Version of Record will be available online at:
Publisher Keywords: stakeholder engagement, corporate social responsibility, governments, intergovernmental politics, public policy, causal attribution
Subjects: H Social Sciences > HD Industries. Land use. Labor > HD28 Management. Industrial Management
J Political Science > JZ International relations
Departments: Bayes Business School > Management
SWORD Depositor:
[thumbnail of EBCG JBE 2023 CRO VERSION.pdf] Text - Accepted Version
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