Stakeholder Theory

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The execution of complex projects, particularly in global sporting events like the Olympic Games, is quite a feat to accomplish. Complexities emanating from such projects require early project planning, development, the delivery of tested solutions, and the presence of a skilled project team (Raco 2013, p.175). Among the elements that combine to make a project complex, the most important are the abilities to be intricate, meticulous, and dynamic (Sadd 2012, p.4). Besides, the prospect of a well formulated and all-inclusive execution strategy backed up by thorough risk assessment and mitigation frameworks is inevitable if the desired success is to beachieved ("Risk Managing the London 2012 Olympic Games." 2018, p. 7). Simply put, the margin for error is trace. The key cornerstones of fruitful projects comprise risk recognition, transparency, clear goals, quality leadership, and the management of project disturbances (Edizel 2014, p.32). The flashback of such catastrophes as the summer Olympics of 1972 is a reminder of the soaring stakes in project management (Parent 2013, p.28). However, the 2012 London Olympic Games served as a perfect benchmark if such deadly errors are to be obliterated. Thus, the paper will provide an in-depth analysis of the 2012 Olympics by focusing on the relevant literature, governance, and performance of the project, considering the relevant stakeholder concerns and the deployed risk mitigation strategies.

Literature Review

The Legacy of Mega Events

The motives, impacts, and meanings of an event with the focus on the results, long-term implications, and effects define the nature of legacy a project leaves behind. Sadd (2012) opines that the positive and negative legacies are fully reliant on project planning and management (p. 115). Social legacies, for instance, are the vital gears that aid in the implementation of strategies to achieve social impacts from a sporting event (Tramantano, Barnwell, Bishop, Jones and Miller 2015, p.25). Such statement is pertinent to the 2012 Olympics since the focus has shifted to leveraging aspects and legacy management (Sadd 2012, p.176). Arguably, host nations have achieved a wide variety of Olympic legacies. Making attempts towards the achievement of permanent legacies, project managers must decide what to maintain and discard. Besides, the host nation’s desire to acquire the Olympic legacy is vital in project organisation and evaluation. Importantly, urban regional legacies are the bedrocks for thriving economies, better facilities, and sustainable environment. On the other hand, the assumption that hosting Olympics automatically translates into regeneration is unrealistic since the success depends on proper funding, good marketing, and effective planning (Field and Kenneth 2012, p.295).

The fallacy that hosting Olympic Games only impacts the host nations positively is unfounded. Housing legacy is one of the concepts upon which scholars refute such claims. The creation of average living conditions is a precursor for high rents through urban re-imaging programs (Sadd 2012, p. 123). Debatably, one of the major concerns is related to the ethically unjust displacements prompted by the need for sites to build infrastructure and facilities (Tramantano, Barnwell, Bishop, Jones and Miller 2015, p.25). On the other hand, the employment benefits are short-term in nature, even though the jobs are sustainable for the existing periods (Davies, Andrew, and Mackenzie 2014, p.781). Eventually, the status quo is restored upon the termination of the project. The indebtedness of public sectors as a legacy is explained by the fact that however much Olympics impact an economy, governments tend to refrain from mirroring such benefit in the relevant sectors (Edizel 2014, p.28).

The Stakeholder Theory

The stakeholder theory provides an integrating concept for the society and businesses and can allows to enjoy certain competitive merits when cooperativeness and trust are engaged (Huml, Hambrick, Hums and Nite 2018, p.8). The primary concern is the creation of value for the involved stakeholders. Another negative aspect observed is the inability to achieve effective conflict resolution when the management cannot find the right balance to treat all the involved parties equally. Sadd (2012) asserts that it is the purpose of the company to drive the rationale that brings all relevant stakeholders together (p.206). Thus, in the context of organising an Olympics, such principle can imply deserting long-term positive social legacies. Provided that cooperation and trust exist, integration with stakeholders should be ensured and maintained (Tramantano, Barnwell, Bishop, Jones and Miller 2015, p.39). The only conflicting concern associated with the theory is the responsibility of the management before the stakeholders, yet the Olympics’ governing body passes this role to the local organising committees. However, the International Olympics Committee strictly controls how project managers operationalise the event and maintain focus on all stakeholders. Significantly, there exist five contextual factors that determine stakeholder relationships, namely accountability, authority, diverse concerns, sustainability, and profitability (Huml, Hambrick, Hums and Nite 2018, p.13). It is worthwhile to determine in the future research works whether within-stakeholder group-specific concerns exist.

Impacts of Stakeholder Issues on the Success of the 2012 Olympics

Stakeholders’ concerns are widely heterogeneous, hence creating a complex success framework if all the issues are to be addressed (Sadd 2012, p.178). However, the common denominator for all their informational and material interests is the return on investments. Due to the high number of stakeholders involved, London Organising Committee of Olympic Games (LOCOG) has faced difficulties in ensuring that most if not all of the issues were addressed. In the process, they had to reinvent themselves to ensure the project was a success. The project committees formulated partnerships and relationships to clearly outline expectations. Moreover, serious attention was paid to the principles associated with stakeholder management (Ostroukhov 2017, p.177). Consequently, such drastic measures served as the springboard for a successful project. In light of this, the minimal risks, high revenues, better economies, trade booms, and the achievement of the vital legacies were ensured (Tramantano, Barnwell, Bishop, Jones and Miller 2015, p.23). Moreover, the London Olympics has established itself as the perfect learning point for future host nations.


Legacy theory stipulates that such mega projects as the Olympics create both positive and negative legacies. On the other hand, the stakeholders’ theory is focused on the execution of projects, concentrating on how the aspects of stakeholders play out. For a project to be considered successful, the management ought to consider such key pillars as transparency, clear goals, quality leadership, and the management of project disturbances. The 2012 London Olympics was a success due to good planning and effective project execution. Moreover, the stakeholders involved played a vital role in the process, hence leading to the development of a win-win situation.

Performance Review of 2012 London Olympics

Vision Communication

The vision of an Olympics serves as an anchor that sets the project in the trajectory of successful execution (“Commission for a Sustainable London 2012” 2012, p.8).The vision statement was as follows: “To host an inspirational, safe, and inclusive Olympic and Paralympic Games and leave a sustainable legacy for London and the UK” (“Commission for a Sustainable London 2012” 2012, p.8).

The national and international sponsors created authenticity and frameworks that worked out to ensure the Olympics had a good vision (Raco 2013, p.182). The Games were delivered across multiple stakeholders and the partners of nineteen government departments. Importantly, the stakeholders aligned themselves with the vision of the Games by ensuring that their concerns aimed at fulfilling the key aspects it contained. Such alignment was manifested in their products, services, informational projects, and material interests (Ostroukhov 2017, p.182). Having been a key stakeholder, the media provided the vital link up of the vision with the outside world (Parent 2013, p.26). Some of the tools used by the media to communicate the vision were live broadcasts and the social media, including Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and Telegram) (“Commission for a Sustainable London 2012” 2012, p. 23)

Governance of the Project

Efficient governance of a project must ensure that all the stakeholders are involved in making relevant decisions and possess the associated power and resource balances (Tramantano, Barnwell, Bishop, Jones and Miller 2015, p.16). For effectiveness to be achieved in accordance with the set governance frameworks, the project execution teams had to ensure cohesion and co-ordination through pre-requisites and networks so as to gain power, shared understanding, and commitment (Edizel 2014, p.28). Additionally, the committees integrated such critical aspects of governance as collective action and mobilisation in planning the Olympics. Importantly, through the LOCOG, the government utilised the opportunity for valuable collaboration, thus having facilitated the decision making processes, broadened informational access, enhanced understanding, and enabled influence (Veysey 2010, p.21).Consequently, with most of the pressing issues addressed, stakeholders perfectly played their roles leading to successful execution of the project.

Levels of Success in the Management of Internal and External Stakeholders

Even though stakeholders play crucial roles for a project to be considered successful, it is of great significance for the organising committee to have a sustainable stakeholder management plan (Sadd 2012, p.154). Additionally, the successful management of internal stakeholders sets the tone for good relations and partnerships with the external stakeholder group (Field and Kenneth 2012, p.291). The internal stakeholder group (government, employees, consultants, contractors, and community) provided the base upon which the London Olympics thrived. To begin with, an effective partnership with the government provided favourable political atmosphere, security, and logistics to host the Olympics (Fussey 2015, p.222). Consequently, the employees and contractors played crucial roles in the development and maintenance of such required elements of infrastructures as stadiums (Parent 2013, p.19). Besides, they were deployed in various service categories, for instance, tour guides. Notably, consultancy services were vital in the risk identification, assessment, and mitigation processes (Veysey 2010, p.32). Without consultants, the identification of loopholes cannot be effective. Hence, the management of the community, which encompassed spectators, tourists, residents, activists, and business bureaus, ensured seamless integration and bonding with the external stakeholders.

Sponsors as external stakeholders seriously influenced the outcome of the Olympic games through the billion-dollar revenues that bankrolled the project (Tramantano, Barnwell, Bishop, Jones and Miller 2015, p.18). Such events require constant revenue injects owing to such complex aspects of the project as security and infrastructure (Fussey 2015, p.218). Similarly, a win for the LOCOG was the achievement of the International Olympics Committee. In the event of successful execution of Olympics, a worthy benchmark, which would be useful in creating new policies and legislations alongside the irreducible minimums for future hosts, was expected to be reached (Veysey 2010, p.29). Being an internal/external stakeholder, the media ensured live broadcasts of the games, hence linking the outside world with London. In the process, they served as communication channel of promoting the vision and key objectives of the games to realty (Field and Kenneth 2012, p. 286). Non-governmental organisations, such as the World Health Organization (WHO) and World Anti- Doping Agency (WADA), ensured the success of the Olympics through oversights and enforcement of their respective policies, legislations, and rules. Most of the legislations focused on human rights and freedoms, including the right to security, basic needs, and life (“Commission for a Sustainable London 2012” 2012, p.15).

Risk Mitigation Strategy

Successful mega projects are based on very stringent risk identification and mitigation processes to effectively shut exploitable gaps (Veysey 2010, p.45). With the desire to stage one of the “greenest games ever”, early identification of risks, such as contaminated sites, poor economic conditions, multiple stakeholders, and an ever present world press gave the full impression of how the games could fail (Davies, Andrew, and Mackenzie 2014, p.790). To counter these complex issues, a clear risk management plan was formulated, which included the hierarchy of threats and the responsibilities of each individual in the risk management team ("Risk Managing the London 2012 Olympic Games" 2018, p.11). Nonetheless, the framework was subjected to reviews and audits hence polishing the risk mitigation process. As a result, the barriers that hindered innovation was removed, paving way for inventions and technological know how, which has left a lasting legacy in the London Olympics.

Side Flips of the 2012 London Olympics

Prior to the Olympics, LOCOG aimed at making the games “greener” by ensuring the event was carbon neutral and sustainable (Tramantano, Barnwell, Bishop, Jones and Miller 2015, p.23). However, this goal was not achieved. As the games drew closer, many green building strategies, including water recycling and reducing the carbon footprint, faded away. Thus, the games achieved minimal sustainability in the long-term. On the controversial topic of carbon emissions, most theorists were of the ideology that the games were more of a “pay-to-pollute’ scheme (Sadd 2012, p.188). Another public relations gaffe was the concern that metals used in the manufacture of the medals were from the Tinto Rio mine, which was associated with life water and air pollution. Some instances of transportation chaos were also witnessed, albeit sparingly. However, the only resultant major concern were increased flight emissions, which were attributed to the large number of visitors jetting into London (Mackintosh, Darko and May-Wilkins 2012, p.456).


The 2012 Olympics are claimed to be the best Games ever. It is worth noting that the successful execution of a large project cannot be fluked. Success is only attained if there are proper plans and funding. Despite all the merits, the 2012 Olympics also had some controversial sides, including high carbon emissions. Further, the prospect of being the “greenest” games ever proved unattainable. Significantly, risk assessment and mitigation frameworks must be incorporated into the mix to ensure that any glaring loopholes are sealed. While the games created lasting legacies in the United Kingdom, not all were positive. Thus, future research works should focus on determining how to counteract the negative legacies, such as short-term employments, housing legacy, and indebtedness of the economic sector (public).


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January 19, 2024

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