Difference Between Shareholder and StakeholderWith Table

Every company raises capital from the market by issuing shares to the general public. The shareholder is the person who has bought the shares of the company either from the primary market or secondary market, after which he has got the legal part ownership in the capital of the company. Share Certificate is given to every individual shareholder for the number of shares held by him. Shareholders provide the funds that allow companies to invest and innovate, while stakeholders have a stake in the company’s long-term performance. Stakeholders and shareholders may have conflicting interests, but the two sides don’t have to be at odds.

  1. In this article you will learn more key differences between shareholders and stakeholders.
  2. It has been debated whether a company should primarily consider its shareholders or stakeholders when making business decisions and adhering to fiduciary duty.
  3. In essence, the stakeholder concept argues that the purpose of a business is to create value for stakeholders not just shareholders.

Shareholders are owners of the company, but they are not liable for the company’s debts. For private companies, sole proprietorships, and partnerships, the owners are liable for the company’s debts. Shareholder is a person, who has invested money in the business by purchasing shares of the concerned enterprise. On the other hand, stakeholder implies the party whose interest is directly or indirectly affected by the company’s actions. The scope of stakeholders is wider than that of the shareholder, in the sense that the latter is a part of the former.

Shareholders are always stakeholders, but stakeholders aren’t necessarily shareholders. In this guide, we’ll uncover those differences and then discuss what can be done to counter negative stakeholder influence on your projects. Shareholder theory was popularized in the early 60s by economist Milton Friedman.

In the end, you don’t want to spend time and resources on a project that’s likely to be shut down because of, say, environmentalists lobbying against it because of its potentially negative impact on the environment. You can then create a plan and project roadmap that specifically address various stakeholder requirements. Instead of backlash or opposition, you have a better chance of obtaining support for your projects this way. Just as investors look to balance and diversify their portfolios to maximize capital, companies benefit from balancing financial goals with business ethics. Investors who buy and hold shares are betting that the company will remain stable and profitable.

This, however, doesn’t mean that companies can do as they please because their practices are still subject to applicable laws. Stakeholders can be anyone who feels the direct effects of a company’s actions, like its employees, suppliers, customers and other groups. Shareholders actually own financial shares in the company, so their interest in the company is monetary. Even if a majority shareholder reaps the most reward from profits, every shareholder gets a piece of the pie. A stakeholder is any party, group or individual with a special interest — or stake — in a certain company. They can include employees, customers, localities, parts of the supply chain and the government or non-governmental organizations (NGOs).

Main differences between shareholders and stakeholders

Stakeholder management is a process that happens throughout the duration of the project, not just in the beginning stages. Depending on the type of supplier a company may get various benefits profiting its development. Shareholders can claim for a portion of money if the company is liquidated. Outright opponents or enemies of the organization are those individuals or groups who seek actively and aggressively to limit the organization in its activities. These opponents or enemies may have the power to bring an activity to a halt or to prohibit an activity being started. Further, management may take opportunity to partner with resource supplier in the development of a specialized product.


Therefore, CSR encourages corporations to make choices that protect social welfare, often using methods that reach far beyond legal and regulatory requirements. Time to time the terms a stakeholder and a shareholder can be used interchangeably, because an equity shareholder is always a stakeholder, always has rights to vote in projects, and is impacted by the company’s projects. But in many cases the notion of a stakeholder is much broader and includes people beyond the company, not involved in its activity directly.

What is the difference between shareholders and stakeholders?

The terms shareholder and stakeholder can oftentimes be confused or improperly used interchangeably. Identifying and understanding the needs of all stakeholders, whether individuals, organizations, or the environment, is crucial for business leaders to understand how their enterprise will impact the greater community. This article defines shareholders and stakeholders, identifies their key differences, and begins to explore how entrepreneurs can consider all stakeholders during the conception of an enterprise to compel their mission. Stakeholders can be divided into two main categories namely (i) internal stakeholders, and (ii) external stakeholders. Internal stakeholders have direct influence on the resources of the organization. External stakeholders are people who have no direct role in the organizational operations, but they have some interest in it or its activities.

Also, management is to ensure that the supplier of a product which is covered under regulations from statutory authority follows the specific regulations. Then there can be supplies which are covered by patents or may include policies, procedures, and safeguards. Also, confidentiality difference between stakeholder and shareholder clause may be a very important clause for some supplies. Management has to ensure through agreements that these requirements are fulfilled by the supplier. It is also necessary for the management to maintain continuous awareness of potential new customers and their needs.

Stakeholder vs. Shareholder in CRS Companies

The key matter of Friedman doctrine, otherwise called shareholder theory, is that firms must bring benefits only to shareholders who exist at the backbone of the business mechanism. In addition to expected profit, investors get the right to vote when they buy shares of a company. Whether we’re talking about project management specifically or your organization as a whole, it’s a good idea to practice stakeholder management and constantly communicate with stakeholders to collaborate effectively. The biggest difference between the two is that shareholders focus on a return of their investment. Try ProjectManager and get dashboards and reporting tools that track everything stakeholders and shareholders care about.

On the other hand, stakeholders have no such legal entitlements but still have an interest in the success of the business. A stakeholder is anyone who has an interest in the success or failure of a company. This includes shareholders, employees, customers, suppliers, creditors, and even the community where the business is located. While shareholders are stakeholders, not all stakeholders are shareholders. A shareholder also known as a stockholder is an individual or organization that owns shares in a company. Shares represent a portion of ownership in a company, and shareholders are entitled to a share of the company’s profits or losses.

Shareholder Theory vs. Stakeholder Theory

That means big investors hold the most sway over a company’s overall strategic plan. Stakeholder Theory suggests that prioritizing the needs and interests of stakeholders over those of shareholders is more likely to lead to long-term success, health, and growth across a variety of metrics. While shareholder own the company’s share by paying the price for it, hence they are the owners of the company.

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