Assessing Freeman's stakeholder theory

Journal of Business Ethics 87 (3):401 - 414 (2009)
Abstract
At least since the publication of the monumental Strategic Management: A Stakeholder Approach (1984), the “stakeholder theory” originated by R. E. Freeman has engrossed much of the business ethics literature. Subsequently, some advocates have moved a bit too quickly and without proper definition or argument. They have exceeded Freeman’s intentions which are more libertarian and free-market than is often thought. This essay focuses on the versions of stakeholder theory directly authored or coauthored by Freeman in an effort to recover (1) Freeman’s intentions and (2) the argumentative justification of stakeholder theory. It then argues that Freeman’s appeal to legal, economic, and ethical constraints ultimately produce arguments that are invalid. One can thoroughly support legislation constraining corporations or seeking to prevent age discrimination, market monopolies, and externalities and regret the extent that capitalism is heir to such shortcomings without it following that (1) business beneficiaries should be changed from stockholders to stakeholders and (2) the latter should be given serious decision-making power. Further, stakeholder theory neither defines nor battles any obvious opposition. Hence, it is difficult to see what it changes about business management. In short, stakeholder theory either changes too much about business, or nothing important at all (depending on one’s interpretation). Efforts to supplant or improve the reigning theory of capitalism will have to do better.
Keywords R. E. Freeman  Milton Friedman  libertarianism  stakeholder theory  stakeholder management  stockholder theory
Categories (categorize this paper)
Options
 Save to my reading list
Follow the author(s)
My bibliography
Export citation
Find it on Scholar
Edit this record
Mark as duplicate
Revision history Request removal from index
 
Download options
PhilPapers Archive


Upload a copy of this paper     Check publisher's policy on self-archival     Papers currently archived: 10,304
External links
Setup an account with your affiliations in order to access resources via your University's proxy server
Configure custom proxy (use this if your affiliation does not provide a proxy)
Through your library
References found in this work BETA

View all 7 references

Citations of this work BETA

View all 11 citations

Similar books and articles
Analytics

Monthly downloads

Added to index

2009-01-28

Total downloads

113 ( #8,186 of 1,096,447 )

Recent downloads (6 months)

4 ( #60,433 of 1,096,447 )

How can I increase my downloads?

My notes
Sign in to use this feature


Discussion
Start a new thread
Order:
There  are no threads in this forum
Nothing in this forum yet.