Roberts and Mahoney (2004) have examined 125 accounting studies that used the stakeholder language and found that nearly 65 percent “use the term stakeholder without reference to any version of stakeholder theory”. The important thing is that writers use the same label to refer to a lot different concepts. This of course can have great consequences on ethical, policy, and strategic conclusions.
Freeman (1984) defines stakeholders as “any group or individual who can affect or is affected by the achievement of the organization objectives”. About twenty of the 75 definitions share this definition. Friedman (2006) states that this definition is more balanced and much broader than the definition
A very common way of differentiating the different kinds of stakeholders is to consider groups of people who have classifiable relationships with the organization. Friedman (2006) means that there is a clear relationship between definitions of what stakeholders and identification of who are the stakeholders. The main groups of stakeholders are customers, Employees, Local communities, Suppliers and distributors, Shareholders