This study examines the central contention ofinstrumental stakeholder theory—
namely, that firms that breed trust-based, cooperative ties with their stakeholders
will have a competitive advantage over firms that do not.Acase study of the introduction
ofgenetically modified food products in the Netherlands provided the basis
for the empirical analysis. The results support the instrumental stakeholder
management thesis, showing that stakeholder integration, through the development
ofmutually enforcing relationships with external parties, may result in both
organizational learning and societal legitimacy.