Daniel Korschun, Ph.D., assistant professor of marketing at Drexel University’s LeBow College of Business, and Madhu Viswanathan, associate professor of marketing at the College of Business at the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign, presented a webinar titled “The Stakeholder Approach in the Marketing Discipline” on September 3. This presentation was offered through the Aspen Institute Center for Business Education (Aspen CBE).
During the webinar, Korschun explained how companies are increasingly merging their corporate social responsibility (CSR) strategy with their corporate strategy. “Because CSR communicates the underlying values of the company, it is an ideal platform from which companies can speak to a diverse set of stakeholders on a level playing field,” Korschun says. “Thus, CSR can be a highly effective means of building and sustaining company-stakeholder relationships.”
“My talk was aimed at improving relationships that companies form with stakeholders; however, much of my current research examines how to break down psychological barriers that stakeholders have with other stakeholders,” Korschun explains. “For example, what can a company do to reduce conflict and increase cooperation between, say, investors and union members, or employees and customers?”
Korschun tries to keep his research as managerially oriented as possible. “The most obvious implication for executives is in how they develop their corporate strategy,” he says. “Most strategists today are very skilled at analyzing the ‘X’s and O’s’ of the market, but have a relatively poor understanding of stakeholder psychology.”
Korschun says that understanding stakeholder psychology is critically important because companies that incorporate this knowledge into their strategy can attract the most valuable customers, the most talented employees, and the most committed investors; those that don’t may have to settle for the leftovers.
“My research provides a way to distinguish between stakeholders who have truly ‘signed-on’ to the corporate agenda and those who are just short-term opportunists,” he says.
Korschun became involved with the Aspen CBE through the Stakeholder Marketing Consortium, a series of invitation-only conferences that bring together experts from both the academic and practitioner worlds. He was also quoted in a piece Aspen CBE did on stakeholders and marketing.
“Aspen CBE is, in my view, the world leader in bringing ethical management to the forefront of research and practice,” Korschun says. “They are highly influential because they identify pressing issues related to ethical management, and then bring C-level managers and cutting-edge researchers together to solve these issues.”
Korschun says the feedback he received from the webinar was very positive, and the talk led to some interesting discussions on the importance of CSR.