Relevance of culture for stakeholder theory : an ethnographic examination of a sport event in Taiwan



Journal Title

Journal ISSN

Volume Title



Researchers who focus on strategic management and event management have used stakeholder theory to understand the relationships between a focal organization and its stakeholder. Nevertheless, achieving collaborative solutions can be difficult due to the widely varying values among actors as well as the influence of institutional forces such as legal or social norms. Furthermore, organizational, industrial, and national cultures in which these norms, values, morals, and ethics are embedded vary enormously. What varies culturally, however, is the perception of stakeholders and how a focal organization interacts with its stakeholders. What has yet to be examined in depth, however, is the relevance of national culture on stakeholder theory and factors that facilitate or impede networking and alliance formation for and through events in different cultural setting. The main research objective of the study is therefore to re-examine the relationship and interactions between a sports event organization and its stakeholders in Chinese culture. By conducting an ethnography study on a sport event company in Taiwan, this study attempted to perform a cultural configuration on the Western-developed stakeholder theory. The methods of data collection in this ethnographic study include participant observation, interviews, field notes, event analysis, and document analysis. Thick descriptions with detail the patterns of culture and social relationships in this specific cultural context are generated. A thematic was performed and thirteen themes emerge. Eleven of them are related to guanxi and concepts of stakeholder theory. The other two are not directly related but unique to the context of this study, i.e., the sport industry in Chinese society. Themes related to guanxi and concepts of stakeholder theory fall broadly into four categories: managerial level, organizational level, inter-organizational level, and macro level. The results suggest that Chinese culture does indeed have, at various levels, a profound influence on stakeholder theory. The finding of this study also indicates that the guanxi, renqing, and mianzi that embedded in Chinese culture could have a substantial influence on legitimacy, trust, and reciprocity that determine the way CEOs recognize and interact with their stakeholders. In conclusion, this study, coming from such an interpretivist viewpoint, uses an ethnographic approach to seek alternative and narrative accounts in a different national culture for stakeholder theory development. Lastly, limitations and recommendations for future studies are provided.