Legitimacy building and stakeholder identification in circular economy: A case study

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School of Business | Master's thesis
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Finnish Business Communication
Talouselämän viestintä
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Objective of the Study: The objective of the study was to identify and examine case company's stakeholder groups in circular economy, the salience of these stakeholder groups, and how the case company can build legitimacy among stakeholders. The study aimed to answer two research question: Which are case company's stakeholders in circular economy? How can case company build legitimacy in circular economy? Methodology and the Theoretical Framework: The former literature provided theoretical framework for exploring the concepts of stakeholder identification by Mitchell et al. (1997) and legitimacy building by Suchman (1995). The framework on circular economy is based mainly on Ellen MacArthur Foundation's work (e.g. 2012). The study utilized a qualitative approach and a single case study approach. The analytical framework of the study was constructed based on the research questions. The framework illustrates tools for stakeholder group identification and evaluation of the stakeholder salience based on possible possession of three attributes: power, urgency and/or legitimacy. The main source of data is gathered from five semi-structured interviews with representatives from the technology management, communications, marketing communications and global services departments of the case company. Findings and Conclusions: The study resulted in the following main findings: as the concepts of sustainability and circular economy are closely linked, also the stakeholder groups are much similar. The most salient stakeholders groups in circular economy were identified as customers, investors and financiers, authorities, employees and NGOs and local communities. Customers and employees can be considered as definite stakeholders possessing all three above mentioned attributes. These findings suggest that the case company should integrate communicating on circular economy in all its communications.
circular economy, sustainability, stakeholder theory, stakeholder identification, legitimacy building, kiertotalous, kestävä kehitys, sidosryhmäteoria, sidosryhmien tunnistaminen, legitimiteetin rakentaminen
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