What Are Stakeholders: Their Definition and Examples


Key Takeaways:

  • Stakeholders are individuals or groups that have an interest in the success of an organization and can be impacted by its actions or decisions.
  • There are two main types of stakeholders: internal stakeholders, such as employees and shareholders, and external stakeholders, such as customers and government agencies.
  • Examples of stakeholders include shareholders who invest in the company, customers who purchase goods or services, employees who work for the organization, suppliers who provide materials or resources, government agencies that regulate the industry, and local communities that may be impacted by the organization's actions.
  • Effective stakeholder management is important for maintaining positive relationships with stakeholders, gaining their support, and managing potential conflicts or issues.

Struggling to understand what stakeholders are in business? You've come to the right place! This article will help you identify and comprehend the different kinds of stakeholders and their roles. With this knowledge in hand, you'll be able to make decisions that keep them happy.

Definition of stakeholders

Stakeholders refer to individuals or groups that have an interest in the operations, success, and outcomes of an organization. They may include customers, employees, investors, suppliers, regulators, and the community. The term varies based on the context, but they all share a common interest in the company's performance. Understanding and prioritizing stakeholder needs is critical to achieving business goals and ensuring long-term sustainability. Companies that effectively engage with their stakeholders can build trust, enhance their reputation, and create a competitive advantage.

Stakeholders can be broadly classified into internal and external stakeholders. Internal stakeholders are those who are directly involved in the operations of the company, such as employees, management, and shareholders. External stakeholders, on the other hand, include those who are indirectly affected by the company's activities, such as customers, suppliers, government agencies, communities, and the environment. Each stakeholder group has different expectations and preferences, and companies must balance their interests to create value for all stakeholders.

It's essential to note that stakeholder analysis is not a one-time event but a continuous process. Companies must monitor and engage with stakeholders regularly to identify their changing needs and expectations and respond accordingly. Failure to do so may result in reputational damage, loss of customers, or legal or regulatory penalties. Therefore, it's crucial to develop a comprehensive stakeholder engagement plan that includes clear communication channels, feedback mechanisms, and regular performance monitoring.

In today's interconnected world, stakeholder management has become more critical than ever before. Companies that prioritize stakeholder engagement can leverage their relationships to tackle complex challenges, drive innovation, and achieve sustainable growth. As such, neglecting your stakeholders could be detrimental to the success of your business. It's crucial to recognize them as essential contributors to your company's success and strive to build mutually beneficial relationships with them.

Types of stakeholders

To recognize the different types of stakeholders in your company, explore the section "Types of stakeholders" in "What are Stakeholders: Definition, Types, and Examples".

You can separate the internal and external stakeholders who affect your business decisions.

This is done by looking at the two subsections:

  • "Internal stakeholders"
  • "External stakeholders"

Internal stakeholders

The group of individuals and institutions within an organization who hold a vested interest in the company's success are referred to as 'Inner circle stakeholders'. They may include employees, shareholders, board members, and executives. These stakeholders have a direct or indirect impact on the operations and decision-making processes of the organization. Therefore, they play a crucial role in shaping the company's vision, mission, and objectives.

Employees are essential internal stakeholders who drive business operations through their skills and expertise. They are directly affected by organizational changes, policies, salaries, and working conditions. Shareholders are another significant inner circle stakeholder group who own equity in the company. Their primary concern is to maximize their return on investment through dividends or increased stock prices.

Board Members provide strategic direction to the organization by overseeing corporate governance practices and ensuring compliance with laws and regulations. The C-Suite executives - Chief Executive Officers (CEOs), Chief Financial Officers (CFOs), Chief Operating Officers (COOs) - run day-to-day operations while aligning them with long-term goals.

Distinct from external stakeholders in terms of placement but not in terms of importance lies within 'inner circle stakeholders'. A familiar example includes representatives from employee unions that may represent workers at a company.

According to Businessdictionary.com, "An essential step towards implementing an effective Stakeholder Management strategy is defining the appropriate plan that suits each type of stakeholder."

When it comes to external stakeholders, it's best to keep your friends close and your lobbyists closer.

External stakeholders

Stakeholders beyond those who have a direct interest in an organisation, but are still impacted by its actions, are known as external actors. These can consist of a diverse group of individuals and organisations, including competitors, customers, suppliers, regulators, and community groups. An organisation must identify and prioritise the concerns of each external stakeholder to maintain positive relationships and ensure success.

These entities each play diverse roles within the business environment as external stakeholders. Competitors provide insight into market trends and can foster collaboration opportunities. Customers are vital for revenue generation and feedback on products or services. Suppliers offer input on the quality of materials used in production whereas regulators set standards for legal compliance within the industry. Interest groups represent the values of different communities affected by a company's actions.

The unique aspects that distinguish external stakeholders from other types is their lack of clear ties to the company's decision-making process while also having real-world influence on its outcomes. Companies need to ensure that they identify and actively manage their interactions with these stakeholders so as not to damage long-term prospects for growth and success.

In most situations, companies must work closely with regulators to navigate contextual factors regarding tax codes, human rights regulations, environmental protection regulations at both national, regional and international levels. This working partnership helps build trust between institutions leading organisations towards sustainable growth models ultimately benefiting profits themselves alongside all their external stakeholders in a responsible manner.

From investors to activists, these stakeholders have a shared interest in the success (or failure) of your business talk about high-stakes relationships!

Examples of stakeholders

We have a section called "Examples of stakeholders" from our article, "What Are Stakeholders: Definition, Types, and Examples." In it, we provide you with a thorough understanding of stakeholders. Such examples are:

  • Shareholders
  • Customers
  • Employees
  • Suppliers
  • Government agencies
  • Local communities


Investors who own a share or stock in a company are known as Shareholders. They have the right to vote on certain business decisions and receive dividends based on their percentage of ownership. Shareholders play an important role in a company's success, as they provide the necessary funds for growth and expansion.

In addition to voting rights and dividends, shareholders can also benefit from an increase in the value of their shares. However, they also face risks if the company performs poorly or makes decisions that negatively affect the stock price. It is important for companies to maintain strong relationships with their shareholders and communicate transparently about business decisions.

A unique aspect of shareholders is that they have limited liability, meaning they are not personally responsible for any debts or obligations of the company. This provides some protection for individual investors in case of financial difficulties or bankruptcy.

Pro Tip: Companies can benefit greatly from creating a strong shareholder engagement strategy, which includes regular communication and transparency about business decisions. This can help build trust and loyalty among investors and potentially attract new ones.

Customers may not always be right, but they sure know how to make their voices heard when they're wrong.


The individuals or groups who purchase products and services from a company are considered key stakeholders. Customers can be loyal to a particular brand, make repeat purchases, and provide valuable feedback for the company to improve its offerings.

Understanding the needs, desires, and preferences of customers is crucial for companies looking to maintain their customer base and attract new ones. In order to satisfy their customers, companies often invest in product development or implement marketing strategies to meet the needs of their target audience.

It's worth noting that customers have different expectations when it comes to products and services and may belong to different demographics or social backgrounds. Therefore, businesses need to tailor their offerings accordingly by tracking customer feedback or conducting market research.

According to a survey by Accenture Interactive, 91% of consumers are more likely to shop with brands that offer customized experiences. Companies like Amazon have leveraged AI technology to understand what products their customers want before they even do, resulting in increased sales. (Source: Accenture Interactive)

Employees: the ones who show up to work for a paycheck, and stay for the free coffee and drama.


The members of staff who work for a company are considered one of the most essential stakeholders. They are an integral part of any business, contributing to its success and growth. As shareholders, employees hold a significant interest in the company's performance and sustainability. Their importance lies not only in their individual contributions but also in their collective efforts towards achieving organizational goals.

Employees often act as the face of a company, interacting with clients on behalf of the organization. Furthermore, they play a crucial role in determining customer satisfaction levels, and their work ethic affects the overall quality of goods or services provided by a company. In addition to this, employees provide valuable input that helps businesses thrive, ensuring that they remain relevant amidst intense competition.

To ensure that employees remain engaged and motivated in their work, companies must invest time and resources into providing adequate compensation packages and opportunities for advancement. Organizations should also be empathetic to employee concerns and provide healthy working conditions that allow them to achieve an optimal work-life balance.

By treating employees as valuable stakeholders, organizations can foster trust and loyalty among staff members while driving employee productivity levels upwards. Organizations can also reduce churn rates among staff members by prioritizing employee welfare through comprehensive benefit packages geared towards improving health outcomes while boosting morale within teams. I guess you could say suppliers really know how to deliver... pun intended.


Those involved in supplying goods and services to an organization are known as providers. Without suppliers, a business would struggle to function properly. They frequently establish long-term relationships with their customers, who rely on them for the materials and services they need.

Supplier TypesDescription Raw material Suppliers Provide the essential components for creating products. Service Providers A company or person provides expertise or aid that helps a firm run better. Distribution Centers A location where merchandise is temporarily housed before being sent out to merchants.

A supplier involvement in product design can lead to cost savings as well as innovation. It benefits both parties if suppliers are involved throughout the entire process. Building trustful relationships among suppliers can result in a supplier featuring exclusively of delivering unique products that set up an advantage over competitors.

Suppliers should be continuously reviewed and monitored by those who depend on them for goods or services. This will help improve supply chain performance and guarantee timely shipment of supplies when needed.

Government agencies might be stakeholders, but they're also experts at passing the buck.

Government agencies

Various government stakeholders have significant input in governance decision-making processes. These stakeholders may include regulatory agencies, departments and ministries, as well as officials elected to public office. They play a critical role in developing and implementing laws, regulations, policies, and procedures that affect citizens, businesses and organizations across the country.

The responsibilities of government stakeholders include overseeing compliance with regulatory or environmental standards, ensuring effective delivery of public services including emergency response, healthcare provision, and education. By collaborating with other stakeholders such as civil societies to ensure transparency when dispensing this responsibility. Effective government management improves the welfare of its people while enhancing national growth and development.

In recent times increased citizen participation in policy formulation has seen the creation of e-Government portals which provide online access to information about government services thus improving accountability between the stakeholder (citizens) and Government.

Moreover, The COVID-19 pandemic exemplified the importance of effective cross-stakeholder collaboration including non-governmental organizations (NGOs), international agencies that champion global health missions, multilateral institutions within their mandated spheres improving sensitivity to development goals while mitigating halting disasters.

Local communities: because when it comes to stakeholders, it's important to remember that sometimes the people living next door have the most say.

Local communities

Local residents, neighbors, and community members constitute an essential group of stakeholders in any project. They are the people who will be most directly affected by the decisions made and actions taken by the project's leaders. These stakeholders include individuals and organizations within the immediate vicinity of a project site, as well as those who live further away but may still be impacted. Their concerns and feedback need to be taken into consideration during all phases of a project, from planning through implementation.

Community members provide valuable insights into how a project can best meet local needs and fit within existing cultural, social, and economic contexts. They can also help identify potential risks or unintended consequences that may not have been apparent to outside stakeholders. Additionally, community members may have knowledge about historical or cultural factors that could impact the success of a project.

It is crucial to engage with local communities early in the decision-making process to ensure that their concerns are adequately addressed throughout the entire lifecycle of a project. Failure to do so can result in long-term negative impacts on the community and significant delays in bringing new projects online.

According to research conducted by Deloitte Consulting LLP, 88% of executives surveyed agree that engaging with key stakeholders has become increasingly critical over the last five years (Deloitte University Press).

Stakeholder management is like a game of Jenga: one wrong move and everything falls apart.

Importance of stakeholder management

Effective Stakeholder Management: How It Influences Business Outcomes

Managing stakeholders is crucial for the success of any business. It involves identifying and understanding the interests, needs, and expectations of all parties involved in a project, product or service. By engaging with stakeholders early on, businesses can manage risks, generate support, and build trust. Effective stakeholder management contributes to improved decision making, reduced conflict, enhanced productivity, and better business outcomes.

Furthermore, taking into account stakeholder perspectives helps companies to ensure the alignment of goals and objectives. It also provides insights into potential opportunities for growth, innovation, and competitive advantage. Successful stakeholder management is an ongoing process that requires communication, collaboration, and continuous evaluation.

Pro Tip: Regularly update your stakeholder management plan and communicate progress and changes to all stakeholders involved. This can help foster transparency, build relationships, and ensure the continued success of your business.

Five Facts About What Are Stakeholders: Definition, Types, and Examples:

  • ✅ Stakeholders are individuals or groups that have an interest in a company and can affect or be affected by its activities and decisions. (Source: Investopedia)
  • ✅ Types of stakeholders can include shareholders, customers, employees, suppliers, government agencies, and communities. (Source: The Balance Small Business)
  • ✅ Stakeholder analysis is a process of identifying, prioritizing, and engaging with stakeholders to understand their needs, interests, and potential impact on the project or business. (Source: ProjectManager.com)
  • ✅ Effective stakeholder management can improve overall project success and enhance relationships with key stakeholders. (Source: Harvard Business Review)
  • ✅ Examples of stakeholders in a company can include shareholders seeking returns on their investment, employees wanting job security, customers seeking quality products or services, and communities concerned about environmental impact. (Source: Forbes)

FAQs about What Are Stakeholders: Definition, Types, And Examples

What Are Stakeholders: Definition, Types, and Examples

What is the definition of stakeholders?

Stakeholders are individuals or groups who have an interest or concern in a company or organization. They can be internal, such as employees and shareholders, or external, such as customers, suppliers, the community, and government.

What are the different types of stakeholders?

There are many types of stakeholders, including investors, employees, customers, suppliers, government, local communities, and society at large. Each stakeholder group has a different interest in a company or organization.

Why is it important to identify and manage stakeholders?

Identifying and managing stakeholders is important because it helps a company or organization to understand their interests, needs, and expectations. By meeting these needs, a company can build trust and establish a positive reputation with stakeholders.

Who are the primary stakeholders in a company?

The primary stakeholders in a company are typically shareholders, employees, and customers. These groups have the most direct and immediate impact on the success of the business.

What are some examples of stakeholders in a company?

Examples of stakeholders in a company include shareholders, employees, customers, suppliers, investors, local communities, government agencies, and the media. Each of these groups has a different interest and impact on the business.

How can companies engage with stakeholders?

Companies can engage with stakeholders in a variety of ways, such as regular communication, feedback surveys, town hall meetings, community outreach programs, and social media. Engaging with stakeholders allows a company to build trust and establish strong relationships with them.