Advancing project stakeholder analysis by the concept ‘shadows of the context’

Pernille Eskerod*, Tina Larsen

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal articleResearchpeer-review


The paper contributes to the theoretical debate on stakeholder management within project-oriented organizations. Despite acknowledging that ‘no project is an island’, project management theory (being originally a child of Scientific Management) has drawn on reductionism, i.e. the practice of simplifying the description of a complex phenomenon in order to better grasp it. Project stakeholder management theory has been heavily influenced by this approach, and the unintended consequence is that the simplicity of the stakeholder conceptualization makes it difficult for project representatives to predict stakeholder behavior. In the paper, we suggest the concept ‘shadows of the context’ as a substitute for narrow perceptions of ‘What's in it for me?’. Advantages and disadvantages of a reductionist approach versus the richer and more profound and holistic ‘shadows of the context’ approach within stakeholder analysis are discussed. The paper also celebrates Prof. J. Rodney Turner's significant influences within the project management field.
Original languageEnglish
JournalInternational Journal of Project Management
Issue number1
Pages (from-to)161–169
Publication statusPublished - 1. Jan 2018
Externally publishedYes

Bibliographical note

Paper originally presentednat the 16th Annual EURAM Conference: Manageable Cooperation? European Academy of Management, Paris, France, 1-4 June 2016.


  • Stakeholder theory
  • Shadows of the context
  • Reductionist approach
  • Stakeholder behavior
  • Stakeholder analysis
  • Scientific managemen
  • Scientific management


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