Crises conducting stakeholder salience: Shifts in the evolution of private universities' governance in Latin America
● Purpose: This study builds on embedded approaches to stakeholder management and examines how organizational decision-makers consider social responsibility towards proximal stakeholders in crises that encompass an entire system of stakeholder relationships. ● Design/methodology/approach: Within a criterion-based sample of eight Latin American private universities, we develop in-depth exploratory case studies to examine the prioritization of stakeholders in Higher Education Institutions’ (HEI) decision making during the outbreak of the COVID-19 crisis. ● Findings: Contrary to the notion that during crises organizations prioritize stakeholders that provide resources that are critical to survival, we find that in contextual crises stakeholder management is informed by social responsibility. In addition, our findings suggest that crises may be tipping points for changes towards mission-driven approaches to governance. ● Originality: This study contributes unique insights into decision-makers' prioritization of stakeholders during the COVID-19 crisis. The uncertainty associated with the emerging ‘new normal’ allowed for an extreme test of socially embedded versus resource-oriented approaches to stakeholder management. ● Practical implications: Acknowledging the roles of social responsibility and proximity in stakeholder management during contextual crises allows for more informed governance of organizations that face disruptions in their system of stakeholder relations.