Managing social risk through stakeholder partnership building : empirical descriptive process analysis of stakeholder partnerships from British Petroleum in Colombia and Hoechst in Germany for the management of social risk
This thesis sets out to provide a systematic study of stakeholder partnership building of BP in Colombia and Hoechst in Germany in the context of social risk management. Each company built an NGO and a community partnership that became an integral part of firms' strategy. In examining and evaluating the two companies and the four stakeholder partnerships, the leading research question of how firms build stakeholder partnerships is answered. The present study seeks to identify the characteristics of stakeholder partnership building, as well as to isolate the similarities and differences of this process. Additionally, it is an attempt to define the features of the firms' social risk navigation as context of this research project. The thesis is divided into four parts. The first part introduces the research phenomenon, reviews conceptual foundations, and elaborates methodological issues. The case studies of BP and Hoechst are subdivided into internal processes of social integration and reintegration with regard to the two companies, and external processes of partnership building with regard to the four stakeholder partnerships that are chronologically presented in part two. Part three conceptualises stakeholder partnership building in terms of navigating social risk and partnership alchemy. Finally, part four comprises the research synopsis and reflection. Business and society, stakeholder theory, and strategic relationships are the theoretical areas that contributed to the framework for analysing partnership building. Two longitudinal in-depth case studies provide qualitative data for the processual analysis. The empirical data are categorised, aggregated and compared, in order to extract research findings. The contribution of this research is the extension of behavioural stakeholder theory. It develops is a stakeholder partnership building theory that comprises three parts. First, the 4-Ps of stakeholder partnership building are identified. Second, variables are isolated that describe these elements of partnership alchemy. Finally, four patterns of stakeholder partnership building are identified. As a result, the research presents four propositions for partnership building. Based on the analysis of firms' navigation of social risk, a fifth proposition distinguishes between firm-specific and partnership-specific partnership building. The empirical data provides a contribution to knowledge in its own right by providing detailed insight into the practice of social risk management through stakeholder partnership building.