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The Effect of Respect, Trust, and Fear in Adversarial Stakeholder Relationships: A Case Study on Water Commodification and Stakeholder Engagement

Author(s): Mark McGinley

Journal: Dalhousie Journal of Interdisciplinary Management
ISSN 1923-6530

Volume: 7;
Issue: 1;
Date: 2011;
Original page

Keywords: Stakeholder Theory | Stakeholder Engagement | Water Commodification | Water Export | NAFTA | GATT | Climate Change | Adversarial Relationships | Conflict

Current academic discussion around stakeholder engagement has historically been focused on the attributes of the various stakeholders rather than on the relationship between the stakeholders. This paper examines the role that the intangible variables, respect, fear, and trust play in stakeholder relationships that are characterized by intractable conflict. That role is explored through a case study of stakeholder groups with adversarial positions on the commodification and export of Canada’s freshwater. Through discussion of the relationship between two sets of stakeholders with conflicting interests on Canada’s freshwater commodification respect, fear, and trust are advanced as the key intangible variables that create the underlying conflict. With these root causes identified the paper explores methods to build respect, reduce fear, and create trust between the stakeholders in an effort to shift their relationship from adversarial to co-operative in the hopes of facilitating constructive dialogue.

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