Purpose: This study aims to build on embedded approaches to stakeholder management and examines how organizational decision-makers consider social responsibility toward proximal stakeholders in crises that encompass an entire system of stakeholder relationships. Design/methodology/approach: Within a criterion-based sample of eight Latin American private universities, this paper develops in-depth exploratory case studies to examine the prioritization of stakeholders in higher education institutions’ decision-making during the outbreak of the COVID-19 crisis. Findings: Contrary to the notion that during crises organizations prioritize stakeholders that provide resources that are critical to survival, this study finds that in contextual crises stakeholder management is informed by social responsibility. In addition, the findings suggest that crises may be tipping points for changes toward mission-driven approaches to governance. Practical implications: Acknowledging the roles of social responsibility and proximity in stakeholder management during contextual crises allows for more informed governance of organizations that face disruptions in their system of stakeholder relations. Originality/value: This study contributes unique insights into the decision-maker’s prioritization of stakeholders during the COVID-19 crisis. The uncertainty associated with the emerging “new normal” allowed for an extreme test of socially embedded versus resource-oriented approaches to stakeholder management.
Bibliographical noteFunding Information:
The authors would like to thank Professor Eweje and the anonymous reviewers of their manuscript for their constructive feedback. Moreover, authors are grateful to their Universities? Authorities, faculty and staff for sharing information and accepting their requests for interviews at a time when they needed to focus on other stakeholders.
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All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Business, Management and Accounting (miscellaneous)