Casting Roles to Stakeholders – A Narrative Analysis of Reputational Storytelling in the Digital Public Sphere

Salla Maaria Laaksonen*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to JournalArticleAcademicpeer-review


This article presents a narrative study of stakeholder positions, storytelling agency, and power in the digital public sphere as seen by organizational actors. According to the institutional approach, corporations and their reputations are enacted, sustained, and altered by their external stakeholders. This article posits that, in the online public sphere, corporate reputations are formed by narratives, in which stakeholders take different positions on intended actions. Using a qualitative data set derived from seventeen interviews with communication and risk management professionals, these positions were analyzed using a Burkean pentadic analysis combined with the Stakeholder Saliency Model. Using pentadic ratios, seven different narrative stakeholder positions were identified: Information seeker, Influencer, Pressurer, Communicator, Mender, Monitor, and Intermediator. These positions were taken by different actors, such as individual users, communities, online media and the organization itself. Analyzing the attributes of power, legitimacy and urgency related to these positions three transformations were identified: mobilizing crowds, issue recognition, and scene transformation. The proposed model helps to identify the different stakeholders in the digital communication sphere and to understand their agency through their narrative positions.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)238-254
Number of pages17
JournalInternational Journal of Strategic Communication
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 7 Aug 2016
Externally publishedYes


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