From Silent to Salient Stakeholders: A Study of a Coffee Cooperative and the Dynamic of Social Relationships
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© 2015, © The Author(s) 2015.Theoretical and empirical research on stakeholder behavior tends to focus on specific actions or responses in the context of the organization¿stakeholder relationship. Despite increased efforts to look beyond the dyadic organization¿stakeholder relationship, research still favors the perspective of the focal organization. The taken-for-granted assumption of the organization¿stakeholder relationship may limit our understanding of how organization¿stakeholder linkages are formed and evolve over time. By adopting the perspective of the stakeholder, this article examines organization¿stakeholder relationship formation and tracks changes in the salience of stakeholder groups otherwise considered to be nonstakeholders. This research draws from a case study of small coffee producers in Southern Mexico who formed a cooperative and developed salience within their stakeholder network after a long history of diverse individual, organizational, and institutional arrangements. The findings suggest that the replacement of bureaucratic stakeholder relationships (i.e., those based on inequality, transactions, and hierarchy) with relationships characterized by strong moral commitment to stakeholders¿ claims (in this case, the improvement of the community¿s economic and social welfare) enabled independent farmers to transform into an integrated, solid, and worldwide competitive group of coffee producers.