A Marine Life Park (MLP) whereby more than 100,000 living exhibits of marine life will is slated to start operations in 2012, at Resorts World Sentosa (RWS). The aim of this MLP, as cited by RWS, is to ‘enrich public understanding of marine conservation’. It also wishes to serve as a public showcase for education and research of marine wildlife. The MLP houses 25 indo-pacific bottlenose dolphins as well. There will also be a whale shark exhibit at the MLP. However, before the opening of the MLP, there have already been issues and concerns being raised by the public and some animal welfare organizations, with regards to the captivity of these dolphins and the whale sharks.
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On the other hand, a corporation would want to maintain its reputation for investors’ confidence and profit-maximizing interests. This would be especially so for RWS because it is not only a Singaporean hangout, but a tourist attraction as well. I believe this is the reason why RWS firmly stated that cancelling of the exhibit was not due to “fleeting public opinion”.
Any business has the responsibility to try to build good relations with the society, without flouting any laws erected by the government. Hence, the relationship between any corporation and its stakeholders has to be closely monitored. In this case, managers of RWS have to be diligent in pinpointing out relevant stakeholders and how their interests and power may or may not jeopardize the RWS’s reputation and other interests.
Through stakeholder analysis, I gather that the most salient non-market stakeholders of RWS are the public and the NGOs, SPCA and ACRES. Although they are secondary stakeholders, they can form coalitions and turn the public against RWS. Being a registered charity and Institution of Public Character (IPC), ACRES has engaged in numerous research projects on ‘the use of animals in various fields’. Therefore, I feel that there are certainly some legitimate claims over the welfare of bottlenose dolphins being kept in captivity made by ACRES. Furthermore, the growing importance that is being placed on ethics has made the reputation of RWS more vulnerable to claims made by ACRES and SPCA, in the sense that these animal welfare organizations have power to a large extent over the public. Viewpoints may be swayed easily when these animal welfare organizations present visual information (in the form of posters or photos) to the mass. ACRES and SPCA have an intention to bring about empathy within society so that coalition may be even more easily and unknowingly formed.
For example, when ACRES launched its “Save the World’s Saddest Dolphins” campaign to raise public awareness, through the use of social media such as Facebook, petition signatures of over 800,000 were collected. The effect snowballed as soon as Richard O’ Barry joined ACRES in its campaign to release the 25 dolphins. Appendix 3 shows the Facebook comments of various netizens in response to ACRES’ campaign. More than 19,000 Facebook users have supported the campaign. Most of the comments made revolve around RWS being a purely profit-based corporation that oversees the welfare of these dolphins. From such a campaign, we can classify ACRES and SPCA as dangerous stakeholders.
In accordance with the diagnostic typology of organizational stakeholders framework, these non-market stakeholders have a high threat, and not to mention very low potential and willingness to cooperate with RWS.
The conflicts between RWS and its stakeholders, namely the government, the public, as well as animal welfare organizations, exist mainly due to the obvious fact that any corporation would have its interests in...