Here's how a few friendly folks over at Wharton decided they would put a value on stakeholder engagement in the mining industry (via TriplePundit):
"Henisz and his colleagues used data from 26 gold mines owned by 19 publicly traded firms between 1993 and 2008. By coding more than 50,000 “stakeholder events” found in media reports they developed an index of the degree of stakeholder cooperation or conflict for these mines. The researchers looked at the firms’ listings on the Toronto Stock Exchange...tracking the actions of media-relevant stakeholders allowed the researchers to study the degree of cooperation and conflict for each mine. Then they came up with a single metric that served as an estimate of these delays and disruptions."
Not surprisingly, the mines with the least stakeholder conflict also achieved the highest net value for their mines. Unfortunately there's a difference between a controversial industry seeking to reduce conflict, and a controversial industry trying to actually become sustainable by listening to stakeholders and acting on what they say. After all, anyone can reduce conflict by silencing critics through unlimited court costs and/or simply paying them off (Chevron in Northern Africa, anyone?)
Even worse, the research is biased towards those stakeholders who have the privilege of their concerns being reported on in the media. What about people who deserve to be heard, but aren't?
And here's an objective we could have easily answered without any of the research: "The researchers’ goal was to figure out what role these stakeholder events played in companies’ efforts to maximize profits."
Don't all say it at once: protect and defend reputation.
I look forward to the elusive day when we recognise every shareholder is also a stakeholder in our wider economy, society and environment. Stakeholder vs. shareholder is a tired debate.