Journal of Business Ethics

, Volume 90, Supplement 4, pp 623–637 | Cite as

Cooperation in Stakeholder Networks: Firms’ ‘Tertius Iungens’ Role

  • Elisabet Garriga


In stakeholder theory, most research on cooperation has been focused on inter-organizational collaboration field centered at the dyadic level, excluding the relational or network data. Relational or network data are important as the firms do not simply respond to each stakeholder individually but to an interaction of influences from the entire stakeholder set. The purpose of this article is to analyze the cooperation process among the firm and its stakeholders by considering the relational data and to describe the role of the firm in such cooperation processes. The empirical evidence is provided by an inductive in-depth case study on the company ‘Gas-Nat’ and its stakeholders cooperating on the ‘natural gas pipeline program’ in Argentina. To do so, I combined both quantitative sociometric data and qualitative data from grounded theory and ethnographic observations. This research suggests a stakeholder cooperation model based on structural (stakeholder’s position) and relational factors (framing process). The results indicate that stakeholder cooperation is not just determined by stakeholder position, but they can vary depending on the political opportunity structure in the network and on the framing process. It was found that network structure may create a context for selective cooperation but doesn’t explicitly determine it which is different from the previous research in stakeholder network literature. The role of the firm in the cooperation process was found as a tertius iungens role which implies to join, unite, or connect, and it is different from the existing prominent network literature of tertius gaudens.


stakeholder networks cooperation relational data case study role of the firm 


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© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2010

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Business Policy DepartmentEADA Business SchoolBarcelonaSpain

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