In this article, we build on the stakeholder-politics literature to investigate how corporate scandals transform political contexts and give impetus to the contentious movements of fringe stakeholders against multinational corporations (MNCs). Based on Adut’s scandal theory, we flesh out three scandal-related processes that directly affect political-opportunity structures (POSs) and the generation of social movements against MNCs: convergence of contention toward a single target, publicization of deviant practices, and contagion to other organizations. These processes reduce the obstacles to collective actions by fringe stakeholders by pushing corporate elites to be more sensitive to their claims, by decreasing MNCs’ capability to repress contentious movements, by forcing the targeted MNCs to formalize a policy to monitor and eradicate the controversial practices, and by helping fringe stakeholders find internal and external allies to support their claims. This conceptual model of scandals as catalysts of contentious actions contributes to a better understanding of stakeholder politics by unveiling the role of the political context in the coordination of fringe stakeholders.

Business and Society