Building Stakeholder Relations through Ongoing Engagement and Constructive Dialogue: Lessons from Large Biopharmaceutical Companies
Purpose: This study elaborates on how biopharmaceutical companies interact with their stakeholders. The paper also emphasises the role of a dialogue with stakeholders as an essential element of stakeholder engagement. Design/Methodology/Approach: The article provides a multi-case study of 27 large biopharmaceutical companies that spent over 1 billion EUR on R&D annually in the period of 2017-2018. The study employs content analysis of the annual statements, CSR, sustainability and integrated reports as well as stakeholder portals run by the examined companies. The contents analysis was performed using predefined questions and processed both qualitatively and quantitatively. Findings: The results of the research indicate that a small number of companies developed both stakeholder engagement policies and processes. However, the degree of stakeholder involvement in the materiality determination processes should be positively assessed. Nearly half of the examined companies explained how they engaged stakeholders in determining material issues. Practical Implications: The study provides evidence that maintenance of sustainable relations with stakeholders by biopharmaceutical companies entails the necessity of a multifaceted approach based on the development of engagement policies and processes as well as stakeholder engagement activities and methods. Originality/Value: The study adopts a multi-stakeholder approach while searching for appropriate engagement methods to build a constructive dialogue with stakeholders.