Competing frames and interests regarding food provision and resource allocation, adding to the increased global interdependencies, necessitate agri-food companies and institutions to engage themselves in very diverse multi-stakeholder settings. To develop new forms of interaction, and governance, researchers with very different backgrounds in social sciences try to align, or at least share, research trajectories. This first paper in a special issue on governance of differential stakeholder interests discusses, first, different usages of stakeholder categories, second, the related intersubjectivity in sciences, third, an rough sketch of the use of stakeholder management in different social sciences. Social science researchers study a wide variety of topics, such as individual stakeholder impact on new business models, stakeholder group responses to health claims, firm characteristics explaining multi-stakeholder dialogue, and the impact of multi-stakeholder dialogue on promoting production systems, and on environmental innovations. Interestingly, researchers use very different methods for data gathering and data analysis.