In contemporary higher education, stakeholder management is increasingly important given the growing number and complexity of stakeholder groups. Defensive stakeholder management (DSM), defined as verbal responses of universities to stakeholder criticism, is a largely neglected topic in the higher education literature. Drawing from a combination of theoretical perspectives in the organisation science literature, we explore how three Serbian universities engage with DSM (in relation to allegations of academic misconduct). We focus on the antecedents of inter-institutional differences in responses to stakeholder criticism and its antecedents, in particular, decision-making structures and core missions. Our findings suggest that different universities do respond differently to the same type of criticism and as such this is an important contribution to the debate on DSM in higher education and beyond.
- Stakeholder criticism
- inter-institutional differences
- Serbian higher education