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.