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How stakeholders influence football clubs' strategy?

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par Eric Bailly
Staffordshire University (UK) - M.Sc. in European Management Strategy 2003

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2.1. Stakeholder concept

The stakeholder concept appeared on the first time in a Stanford Research Institute memorandum written by Freeman (1984). This concept symbolizes «any group or individual who can affect or is affected by the achievement of the organization's objectives». But this concept has been developed by Donaldson and Preston (1991), who suggested that «the organization should consider a wider range of influencers when developing its strategy» and that «earlier theories of the firm do not consider all of the «groups» that influence organizational activities».

In theory, the concept of stakeholders is infinite. It includes so many individuals and groups that Freeman (1984) drew a limit, useful to researches by regrouping the most important and interesting stakeholders groups:


Financial institutions



General public


Courts/legal system


Scientific community


Interest groups


2. 2. Stakeholder theory

This theory developed by Donaldson and Preston (1991) is wide and advise the firms that they should balance all stakeholders' objectives when designing a new strategy. It affirms that giving equal importance to stakeholders is the best way to achieve a company's success, not only to concentrate on financial outcomes. These authors think that the best way is to give as much fulfilment as possible to all stakeholders without exception. It is essential, for example, to delight customers, to motivate employees, to build long lasting relationship with suppliers...

How stakeholders influence football clubs' strategy ? September 2003

It is a very complicate task, so challenging, because it is obvious that shareholders expecting return on investment will not appreciate expenses for new facilities for employees. All stakeholders' objectives cannot be met, just a part of it. To achieve that, the company has to balance its own objectives as well, because achieving its objectives may have the cost of leaving a stakeholder behind.

2.3. Stakeholder mapping

This technique allows organizations to draw a map of their stakeholders, so that they get a better view of their environment, so it helps them to put in place a new strategy. Two schemes, looking similar although different, will be useful to this research. First will be explained the Mendelow (1991) one and then, the Archer (1995) one. Mendelow (1991) one is more useful to have a look at the situation, whereas Archer tries to offer help to design strategies.

2.3.1. Mendelow's model

Level of Interest




Minimal Effort



Keep Satisfied

Figure 2.1. Mendelow's model

Source : Mendelow (1991)




Keep Informed


Key Players

According to Mendelow (1991), most of companies' efforts have to be focused on segment D, called «key players». Organizations cannot deal without them. Segment B represents stakeholders to keep informed, but not to underestimate because those groups can be really useful for supporting any lobbying action. To keep satisfy the C category is also something not to forget about. Mendelow insists that stakeholders can move from a category to another, so they can easily switch to the D category, which would mean that they could frustrate the adoption of a new strategy.

How stakeholders influence football clubs' strategy ? September 2003

Mendelow is the first author who highlighted that stakeholders move from categories, so managers have to keep aware about any change. The question is also asked to know if managers try to satisfy stakeholders depending on their category, or if they are manipulating those stakeholders group, shifting one from a category to another, to implement a new strategy.

This mapping tool allows companies to be aware of the following issues: -The company can now understand if its current strategy is still in adequation with stakeholders' interests and power. -To identify who will be the support of your project, and who has the ability and aim to stop it. -The company can then try to give less importance to some groups and try to reposition some as well. This is a very political approach. -To encourage stakeholders to stay in their proper category, or to avoid them to shifting to another category. Any change not wanted by the organisation implies a new strategy to put in place. Others issues are also highlighted by the author. First, stakeholders groups usually contain many subgroups with different objectives, so it confuses this mapping technique. Moreover, organizations have to know who the leaders of stakeholders' groups are and what their objectives are, so that they know who they should contact depending on the circumstances.

2.3.2. Archer's model











Figure 2.2. Archer's model

Source : Archer (1995)









How stakeholders influence football clubs' strategy ? September 2003

Archer's model (1995), useful to draw a map of the stakeholders influence, is based on two things: the fact that stakeholders have compatible or incompatible interests and aims; and whether they are necessary to the organisation or just external contingent relations. As you can see, each category is given an adjective to describe its behaviour, and Archer also proposes a solution or strategy to adopt with the group concerned.

-Group A: Necessary and compatible. This situation happens when stakeholders and the organization are really linked to each other. Both have something to loose if the relationship disrupt. So, it is logical that the organisation defends this precious link and has protectionist behaviour towards this category.

-Group B: Contingent and compatible. Here, the organization has to make a choice. It is in front of a stakeholders group which has the same aims and interests, but which is not necessary to the business. It may represent a good business opportunity but does the company want to integrate this stakeholder in its environment or is the organization too conservative? A choice has to be made.

-Group C: Contingent and incompatible. Archer refers to war as an extreme case of this category. The organization has not a direct competition with this category, but the indirect competition is about getting support of powerful stakeholders. So, the competition is on and the more damage the other organisation gets and the more influent people join yours. The organization's aim is to discredit oppositional views and accentuate differences.

-Group D: Necessary and incompatible. This is an unpleasant situation where the organization has to cope with stakeholders who do not have the same interest. So, in this type of relationship, one of the parties will be threatened. Both have to agree on a compromise, but none of them will be totally satisfied.

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