The Stakeholder Perspective


By Massimo Pirozzi

Rome, Italy



The word “stakeholder” dates back to the beginning of the eighteenth century, meaning the person who was entrusted with the stakes of bettors, and, then, who was holding all the bets placed on a game or a race, and who was paying the money to the winners: therefore, the first stakeholder was a “holder of interests”. In addition, “stake” may mean a post placed in the ground, either representing the concept of a strong support, or representing the boundaries that define an interest: in fact, it is believed that the first modern meaning of stakeholders is “those groups without whose support the organization would cease to exist” (Stanford University Research Center,1963), while in the first text on the theory of stakeholders (Freeman, 1984), the definition of stakeholder was “a stakeholder in an organization is any group or individual who can affect or is affected by the achievement of the organization’s objectives”. Ten years later (Freeman, 1994), the concept of generated value was added too, and stakeholders were defined as “participants in the human process of joint value creation”.

Furthermore, starting from the second half of the eighties, the theory of stakeholder management, which was focused on corporate social responsibility, incorporated an important ethical component into the concept of stakeholder: to this day, a current significance of stakeholder (Cambridge Dictionary) is, also, ” a person such as an employee, customer, or citizen who is involved with an organization, society, etc. and therefore has responsibilities towards it and an interest in its success”. Ethics, therefore, became a central reference in stakeholder management, confirming both the responsibility of the organization toward its stakeholders, and the responsibility of stakeholders toward their organization.

Moreover, stakeholders, and their synonym “interested parties”, have a crucial importance in international standards and best practices: in particular, in the domain of quality management, “interested parties are individuals and other entities that add value to the organization, or are otherwise interested in, or affected by, the activities of the organization” (The International Organization for Standardization, 2009), while, in the domain of project management, stakeholder is “a person, a group or an organization that has an interest in, or can affect, be affected by, or perceive itself to be affected by, any aspect of the project” (The International Organization for Standardization, 2012).

Definitively, a stakeholder, or an interested party, is a person, or a group of persons, or an organization, that:

  • has some kind of interest in the project;
  • may affect the project, or may be affected by the project;
  • participates, or would like to participate, in the project;
  • can bring a value, which could be either positive or negative, to the project;
  • may have responsibilities towards the project, which, in turn, is supposed to satisfy stakeholders’ expectations.

Each project could then include a large variety of stakeholders, as:

  • the project manager, the project team,
  • the project management team, the project management office,
  • the sponsor, the project steering committee or board,
  • the functional managers, the employees, the collaborators, the professionals,
  • the funders, the partners or the shareholders,
  • the customers , the users, the customer representatives,
  • the business partners, the distributors, the representatives, the members of the consortium, the network partners,
  • the suppliers , the service companies, the consultants, the outsourcers,
  • the authorities, the regulatory bodies, the central and local public administration,
  • the potential customers and users, the participants and the candidates to participate in the project, the local communities, the web communities, the associations, the trade unions, the media, the competitors, and the hostile stakeholders.


All the project stakeholders are important, since all the stakeholders are central towards each project (Pirozzi, 2014):


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Massimo Pirozzi

Rome, Italy




Massimo Pirozzi,
MSc cum laude, Electronic Engineering, University of Rome “La Sapienza, Principal Consultant, Project Manager, and Educator. He is a Member and the Secretary of the Executive Board, a Member of the Scientific Committee, and an accredited Master Teacher, of the Istituto Italiano di Project Management (Italian Institute of Project Management). He is certified as a Professional Project Manager, as an Information Security Management Systems Lead Auditor, and as an International Mediator. He is a Researcher, a Lecturer, and an Author about Stakeholder Management, Relationship Management, Complex Projects Management, and Project Management X.0. He has a wide experience in managing large and complex projects in international contexts, and in managing relations with public and private organizations, including multinational companies, small and medium-sized enterprises, research institutes, and non-profit organizations. He was also, for many years, a Top Manager in ICT Industry, and an Adjunct Professor in Organizational Psychology. He is registered as an Expert of the European Commission.

E-mail: [email protected]