Stakeholder roleplay (NN5)

Study Board Cand.merc.
Course title Marketing Ethics 
Course type/size Mandatory (approx. 80 students)
Teaching format Face-to-face 

The NN connections of this activity 

The roleplay demonstrates that intentions to act responsibly in relation to the surrounding society requires marketers to consider, (empathize with) and navigate between conflicting stakeholder interests and values. 

Teaching Philosophy

This session takes a departure from a student-centered approach to improve engagement in class and challenges the traditional learning space to create reflections facilitated by a dynamic learning environment. This enables active learning through creativity and debates. Finally, the roleplay follows a constructive alignment approach where learning activities are designed in alignment with course objectives and to the students’ life-long learning. 

Associate Professor Szilvia Gyimothy Møger-Pedersen 
Assistant Professor, PHD, Anna-Bertha Heeris Christensen 
Department of Marketing 

Key objective(s) aligned with this activity

  • Understand and analyze complex issues regarding the company’s ethical responsibility 
  • Reflect on connections and contradictions between social, economic and environmental perspectives  
  • Train a holistic approach to marketing 

Description of the activity  

The example is a fishbowl role play (Garrison & Munday, 2012) about Stakeholder Management.   
It is based on a fictional case: “FIFA World Cup in Saudi Arabia in 2034.” 
The roleplay has 3 iterations and takes 60-80 minutes.  

The case dilemma 

The case centers on the ethical considerations surrounding participation in an international sporting mega-event, which may ideally foster increased community cohesion, promote intercultural learning and encourage a healthy lifestyle. However, the event is hosted by a global partner known for its controversial stances on human rights and environmental sustainability. Previous partnerships with similar ethical concerns have had significant consequences for other key stakeholders due to consumer activism against these controversial positions. As a result, key stakeholders find themselves in an ethical dispute that, in the worst case, could lead to the event’s cancellation and/or severely harm the event’s brand and stakeholder relationships. 

How the activity is facilitated

Before the class session: 
The students are asked to read relevant literature on stakeholder management and marketing ethics. The students are also presented to the fictional case and activity before class.   

In class: 
The teacher presents the relevant theory to the case and explains the case as well as the key dilemmas. Hereafter, the teacher presents the stakeholder groups and divides the students into groups so that each stakeholder is represented by one group. The students are also presented with specific standpoints that each stakeholder represents. Finally, the students are presented with the practicalities, timeframe, rules, and specific activities.  

The steps in the activity: 

  1. All students are divided into groups. 
  1. Each group represents a stakeholder perspective, such as Visit Saudi Arabia, DBU, The media…  
  1. The groups internally discuss their values and main dilemmas. They are asked to articulate a non-negotiable principle and another aspect where they are more flexible in their stance.   
  1. 1st fishbowl round: One representative from each group meets with the other groups and presents viewpoints and ethical standpoints. The students are asked to find three issues they all agree are the most important to make a successful event and create the most value for most stakeholders. 
  1. The groups again discuss internally and are asked to discuss the other viewpoints, allocate potential alliances (stakeholders they agree with), and create a strategy to protect their ethical standards. 
  1. 2nd fishbowl round: A new representative from each group meets the other stakeholders. They are asked to find similarities and create an ethical code of conduct, which they can all agree on. Each group works with their strategy and argues for their ethical standpoint.  
  1. The groups discuss the other viewpoints and are asked to formulate a code of conduct that they think is best for all stakeholders. 
  1. 3rd fishbowl round: A new representative from each group meets the other stakeholders. The stakeholder must either formulate a collective code of conduct that all stakeholders agree on or abort the stakeholder meeting. 
  1. Plenum discussion: In the plenum discussion, we return to literature and discuss the ethical dilemmas the students have experienced and whether they achieved an increased value for all stakeholders. Did they succeed or not, and what are the consequences of each outcome? Questions like these were asked to make the students reflect on their discussions and outcomes. 
  1. Takeaways: By the end of the roleplay, we hope that the students have obtained an understanding of how to manage ethical dilemmas in stakeholder networks. To reflect upon how business ethics can have consequences for the bottom line, the brand, and consumer and stakeholder relations. We hope that the students get a hands-on understanding of the level of complexity in creating sustainable and inclusive codes of conduct. Finally, the roleplay engages the students on different levels, ensuring a connection to the theory and real-life ethical marketing dilemmas. 

After the roleplay:  
The roleplay moderator wraps up and gives feedback.