What Is a Stakeholder?

Stakeholder Definition

Stakeholders are individuals or groups with an interest or incentive in a venture’s success or failure.

Different stakeholders have different motivations.

For example, a company’s shareholders look to maximize profits, while the company’s employees want to maximize their compensation.

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Stakeholders in Business

In order to be successful, a company must balance varying and often opposing sets of interests.

Looking at our example of shareholders and employees, every dollar an employee is paid is one less dollar its shareholders make – this is known as a “zero-sum game.”

To align the interests of employees and shareholders, a company may offer sales commission to employees.

That way, every dollar an employee earns also generates revenue for the company, making their interests aligned.

Identifying stakeholders is considered one of the most important activities for a business.

Internal and External Stakeholders

There are generally two kinds of stakeholders:

Internal stakeholders are stakeholders who are directly impacted by the company’s success and failure. They often have a financial stake in the company.

Examples of internal stakeholders are:

  • Shareholders or investors with a stake in the company: They benefit directly when a company declares profits.
  • Employees can earn bonuses or higher salaries when a company is successful.

External stakeholders are stakeholders who have an indirect stake in the company’s success.

They are not directly affected by the company’s financial performance.

Examples of external stakeholders are:

  • Customers: They benefit when a company reinvests profits to make a superior product or streamlines its operations to make a cheaper product.
  • Contractors and suppliers: They benefit when a company expands existing operations and hires more external people for the purpose.
  • Local community: They benefit from a company’s presence because it provides them with jobs and a livelihood.

Stakeholder vs Shareholder

Sometimes a stakeholder can have a disproportionately large impact on a company’s operations.

For example, a shareholder may have a large holding of the company and, therefore, will be able to control strategy and direction.

There has been a large increase in “ESG investing,” or the practice of investing in companies that also engage in corporate social responsibility.

Corporate social responsibility emphasizes a business’s responsibility to its external stakeholders, especially its local community, rather than only its internal stakeholders.

Getting In to the Stock Market

If you aren’t sure how to begin investing in stocks, feel free to discuss these matters with a financial advisor in Mercer County, NJ. For those who live outside the locale, please check out our financial advisor page to connect with one closest to your area.

Stakeholder FAQs

Stakeholders are individuals or groups with an interest or incentive in a venture’s success or failure.
One group would be a company’s shareholders, who look to maximize profits. Another would be company’s employees, who seek to maximize their compensation.
Looking at our example of shareholders and employees, every dollar an employee is paid is one less dollar its shareholders make – this is known as a “zero-sum game.”
External stakeholders are stakeholders who have an indirect stake in the company’s success. Examples are customers, contractors and suppliers, and the local community.
ESG investing is the practice of buying into companies that also engage in corporate social responsibility. Corporate social responsibility emphasizes a business’s responsibility to its external stakeholders, especially its local community, rather than only its internal stakeholders.

True Tamplin, BSc, CEPF®

About the Author
True Tamplin, BSc, CEPF®

True Tamplin is a published author, public speaker, CEO of UpDigital, and founder of Finance Strategists.

True is a Certified Educator in Personal Finance (CEPF®), a member of the Society for Advancing Business Editing and Writing, contributes to his financial education site, Finance Strategists, and has spoken to various financial communities such as the CFA Institute, as well as university students like his Alma mater, Biola University, where he received a bachelor of science in business and data analytics.

To learn more about True, visit his personal website, view his author profile on Amazon, or check out his speaker profile on the CFA Institute website.

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