Stakeholder Analysis of the Characters in the Lorax

           The Lorax is a movie adaption of acclaimed writer Dr. Seuss’s story of the same name. The movie is about a young boy named Ted Wiggins who, trying to impress a friend of his, decides to find out what happened to all the trees in his city. Ted ventures to the house of the Once-ler who, legend says, knew what happened to the trees. The movie shows flashbacks that explain how it was the Once-ler who was responsible for getting rid of the trees. In trying to expand his business the Once-ler cuts down all the Truffula trees, ignoring the advice of the Lorax who “speak[s] for the trees” (The Lorax, 2012). The Once-ler explains how his actions resulted in the deforestation of all the Truffula trees, destruction of critter habitat, and pollution of Thneadville (The Lorax, 2012). In this essay I will highlight the different stakeholders that were and would be affected as a result of the Once-ler’s actions. I will use a “PARI” Framework to identify the significance of each of these stakeholders.

The “PARI” Framework establishes four criteria for identifying stakeholder significance: power, attitude, proximity, and interest. In their own theory of stakeholder identification, Mitchell, Agle and Wood (1997) highlighted that a party has power “to the extent it has or can gain access to coercive, utilitarian, or normative means to impose its will in the relationship.” In the movie only two characters seem to be able to impose their will unto others: the Once-ler and O’Hare. Both represent business tycoons except that the Once-ler’s business has run out of raw materials to use in manufacturing his product whereas the O’Hare industry continues to grow. Therefore O’Hare is the most powerful character in the Lorax. The least powerful are the critters because they cannot communicate “their will” to the other characters and are therefore usually disregarded. The citizens of Thneadville and the Lorax both have some degree of power however they are not quite as influential as the Once-ler or O’Hare.

The stakeholders hold different attitudes towards cutting down Truffula trees. In the beginning the Once-ler supports cutting down trees because his product, the Thnead, depends on it. O’Hare, although he is in the future, would have supported cutting down trees because his business depends on the absence of trees as well. The Lorax and the critters would strongly oppose cutting down trees since it would result in a loss of their habitat. The citizens seem unaware of the negative consequences of cutting down trees and therefore have an apathetic attitude toward cutting down trees. The proximity of the stakeholders can be determined by establishing who will be affected first by cutting down trees. The critters depend on the trees for sustenance and will therefore have to evacuate if their habitat is destroyed. In terms of proximity the most remote characters would be the citizens of Thneadville. Cutting down trees is strongly in the interest of business tycoons such as the Once-ler and O’Hare. Both their products will only sell if the trees are cut down. On the other hand it is in the interest of the critters and the Lorax to preserve the trees in order to maintain their natural habitat. The citizens of Thneadville arguably did develop very quickly as a result of deforestation. However their new environment is polluted to the extent that they have to purchase clean air and it is solely because of deforestation. Therefore it is in their interest to preserve the trees as well.

The movie highlights two significant aspects of stakeholder involvement in environmental issues. To begin with, the movie highlights the importance of taking into account stakeholders that cannot speak for themselves. More often than not the people – or creatures in this case – that will suffer the most consequences are excluded from policy decisions. The Lorax also touches upon the importance of creating coalitions amongst stakeholders, as can be seen in the ending of the movie (The Lorax, 2012). The citizens of Thneadville mobilize together, in support of growing trees, and act against O’Hare who, as mentioned above, is the most powerful figure in the movie due to his growing business. In the end they get rid of O’Hare, showing the importance of creating stakeholder coalitions to overthrow existing influential figures.

 

Bibliography

Mitchell, Ronald, Bradley Agle, and Donna Wood. 2016. “Toward A Theory Of Stakeholder Identification And Salience: Defining The Principle Of Who And What Really Counts”. Jstor.org. http://www.jstor.org/stable/259247 (25 April 2016).

The Lorax. 2012. Chris Renaud, Kyle Balda.

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