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Stakeholders are the social actors (meaning groups of individuals or other organizations) who play a role in the survival and success of the organization and who are affected by the organization's activities"" (Ancona el al., 1996: module 9, p. 11 as cited in Scott & Davis, 2007, p. 330).

Major categories of stakeholders include employees, customers, suppliers, and members of the community in which the organization operates.

Pure stakeholder theory assets that no group's interests come first, giving no guidance for how to make choices among competing interests. This stands in contrast to the clear guidance of managing for profitability.