The purpose of this paper is to enter the conversation about stakeholder theory with the goal of clarifying certain foundational issues. I want to show, along with Boatright, that there is no stakeholder paradox, and that the principle on which such a paradox is built, the Separation Thesis, is nicely self-serving to business and ethics academics. If we give up such a thesis we find there is no stakeholder theory but that stakeholder theory becomes a genre that is quite rich. (...) It becomes one of many ways to blend together the central concepts of business with those of ethics. Rather than take each concept of business singly or the whole of “business” together and hold it to the light of ethical standards, we can use the stakeholder concept to create more fine-grained analyses that combine business and ethics; or more simply, we can tell many more, and more interesting, stories about business. (shrink)
A quick look at what is happening in the corporate world makes it clear that the stakeholder idea is alive, well, and flourishing; and the question now is not “if ” but “how” stakeholder theory will meet the challenges of its success. Does stakeholder theory’s “arrival” mean continued dynamism, refinement, and relevance, or stasis? How will superior stakeholder theory continue to develop? In light of these and related questions, the authors of these essays conducted an ongoing dialogue on the current (...) state and future of stakeholder thinking. Beginning with a review of research and theory that has developed since the majorstakeholder theorizing efforts of the 1990s, the authors individually offer their perspectives on the key issues relevant today to stakeholder thinking, and to suggest possible approaches that might lead toward and enable the continuing development of superior stakeholder theory. (shrink)
Abstract: The purpose of this paper is to suggest that at least one strain of what has come to be called “stakeholder theory” has roots that are deeply libertarian. We begin by explicating both “stakeholder theory” and “libertarian arguments.” We show how there are libertarian arguments for both instrumental and normative stakeholder theory, and we construct a version of capitalism, called “stakeholder capitalism,” that builds on these libertarian ideas. We argue throughout that strong notions of “freedom” and “voluntary action” are (...) the best possible underpinnings for stakeholder theory, and in doing so, seek to return “stakeholder theory” to its managerial and libertarian roots found in Freeman (1984). (shrink)
In this article, we first provide evidence that Scandinavian contributions to stakeholder theory over the past 50 years play a much larger role in its development than is presently acknowledged. These contributions include the first publication and description of the term “stakeholder”, the first stakeholder map, and the development of three fundamental tenets of stakeholder theory: jointness of interests, cooperative strategic posture, and rejection of a narrowly economic view of the firm. We then explore the current practices of Scandinavian companies (...) through which we identify the evidence of relationships to these historical contributions. Thus, we propose that Scandinavia offers a particularly promising context from which to draw inspiration regarding effective company-stakeholder cooperation and where ample of examples of what is more recently referred to as “creating shared value” can be found. We conclude by endorsing the expression “Scandinavian cooperative advantage” in an effort to draw attention to the Scandinavian context and encourage the field of strategic management to shift its focus from achieving a competitive advantage toward achieving a cooperative advantage. (shrink)
This article discusses plant-closing decisions by multinational enterprises applying a stakeholder theory approach. In particular, we focus on the emergence of “intra-stakeholder alliances,” that is, alliances among the various stakeholder groups of a specific corporation. We analyze the emergence of stakeholder alliances in reaction to MNEs' decisions to terminate production locally and discuss their influence on the outcomes of such decisions. Our research is inspired by two exceptional case studies of two multinational breweries that announced their decisions to close niche (...) breweries in small towns in Italy and Belgium. In both cases, the initial decision was ultimately reversed through the actions of intra-stakeholder alliances. We combine insights from stakeholder theory and the social movement literature to analyze the action and influence of intra-stakeholder alliances in seven cases of plant-closing decisions. We conclude by formulating four general propositions that can provide guidance to MNE management in plant-closing decisions. Our findings extend managerial stakeholder theory, show how this approach can improve strategic management analysis, emphasize the importance of the relationships among stakeholders in the value-creation process, and shed light on the collective action and influence of intra-stakeholder alliances. (shrink)
In this article, we will outline the principles of stakeholder capitalism and describe how this view rejects problematic assumptions in the current narratives of capitalism. Traditional narratives of capitalism rely upon the assumptions of competition, limited resources, and a winner-take-all mentality as fundamental to business and economic activity. These approaches leave little room for ethical analysis, have a simplistic view of human beings, and focus on value-capture rather than value-creation. We argue these assumptions about capitalism are inadequate and leave four (...) problems in their wake. We wish to reframe the narrative of capitalism around the reinforcing concepts of stakeholders coupled with value creation and trade. If we think about how a society can sustain a system of voluntary value creation and trade, then capitalism can once more become a useful concept. (shrink)
Lack of specificity around stakeholder identity remains a serious obstacle to the further development of stakeholder theory andits adoption in actual practice by business managers. Nowhere is this shortcoming more evident than in stakeholder theory’s treatment of the constituency known as “community.”In this paper we attempt to set forth what we call “the Problem of Community” as indicative of the definitional problems of stakeholdertheory. We then begin the process of gaining greater specificity around our notions of community and the role (...) of community in stakeholder theory and management. In doing so, we identify the emergence of two fairly new forms of community that we believe are particularly relevant to the stakeholder theorist and practicing manager. These two new variants of community—the virtual advocacy group and the community of practice—extend the notion of community in new directions, which have strikingly different implications for stakeholder theory and practice. (shrink)
The recent financial crisis has prompted questioning of our basic ideas about capitalism and the role of business in society. As scholars are calling for “responsible leadership” to become more of the norm, organizations are being pushed to enact new values, such as “responsibility” and “sustainability,” and pay more attention to the effects of their actions on their stakeholders. The purpose of this study is to open up a line of research in business ethics on the concept of “ authenticity (...) ” as it can be applied in modern organizational life and more specifically to think through some of the foundational questions about the logic of values. We shall argue that the idea of simply “acting on one’s values” or “being true to oneself” is at best a starting point for thinking about authenticity. We develop the idea of the poetic self as a project of seeking to live authentically. We see being authentic as an ongoing process of conversation that not only starts with perceived values but also involves one’s history, relationships with others, and aspirations. Authenticity entails acting on these values for individuals and organizations and thus also becomes a necessary starting point for ethics. After all, if there is no motivation to justify one’s actions either to oneself or to others, then as Sartre has suggested, morality simply does not come into play. We argue that the idea of responsible leadership can be enriched with this more nuanced idea of the self and authenticity. (shrink)
Stakeholder theory has become one of the most important developments in the field of business ethics. While this concept has evolved and gained prominence as a method of integrating ethics into the basic purposes and strategic objectives of the firm, the authors argue that stakeholder theory has retained certain “masculinist” assumptions from the wider business literature that limit its usefulness. The resources of feminist thought, specifically the work of Carol Gilligan, provide a means of reinterpreting the stakeholder concept in a (...) way that overcomes many of the existing limitations. This reading provides a different understanding of the identity and meaning of the firm, specifically in terms of its relationship to stakeholder groups and what it means for a firm to succeed. The alternatives proposed also converge with recent trends in the wider management literature and provide practical guidance for firms which face a myriad of challenges in the increasingly complex and global marketplace. (shrink)
The purpose of this essay is to suggest that one of the dominant modes of thought in our society is a profound mistrust and misunderstanding of the role of business. A dominant myth in society is that business occupies the moral low ground, separate from ethics or a moral point of view. This position is characterized as the “business sucks” story, and the essay shows how the enactment of this story underlies business thinking among managers and business theorists. The essay (...) concludes with a suggestion to rethink and reinvent this story along more realistic and more empowering lines. Values based capitalism, or stakeholder capitalism, offers a better way to understand the complex role that business does and should play in modern society. (shrink)
Business ethics, as a discipline, appears to be at a crossroads. Down one avenue lies more of the same: mostly philosophers takingwhat they know of ethics and ethical theory and applying it to business. There is a long tradition of scholars working in the area known as “business and society” or “social issues in management.” Most of these scholars are trained as social scientists and teach in business schools. Their raison d’etre has been admirable: trying to get executives and students (...) of business to understand the social impacts of business and to see business in broad, societal terms. (shrink)
Scandinavia is routinely cited as a global leader in corporate social responsibility and sustainability. In this article, we explore the foundation for this claim while also exploring potential contributing factors. We consider the deep-seated traditions of stakeholder engagement across Scandinavia including the claim that the recent concept of “creating shared value” has Scandinavian origins, institutional and cultural factors that encourage strong CSR and sustainability performances, and the recent phenomenon of movement from implicit to explicit CSR in a Scandinavian context and (...) what this may entail. In sum, we depict the state of the art in CSR and sustainability in Scandinavia. We intend for this to serve as a basis to help establish a globally recognized research paradigm dedicated to considering CSR and sustainability in a Scandinavian context. (shrink)
A review of the stakeholder literature reveals that the concept of "normative core" can be applied in three main ways: philosophical justification of stakeholder theory, theoretical governing principles of a firm, and managerial beliefs/values influencing the underlying narrative of business. When considering the case of Wall Street, we argue that the managerial application of normative core reveals the imbedded nature of the fact/value dichotomy. Problems arise when the work of the fact/value dichotomy contributes to a closed-core institution. We make the (...) distinction between open- and closed-core institutions to show how in the case of the closed-core, ethical decision-making is viewed by the institution as a separate domain from the core business of the institution. The resulting blind spot stifles meaningful exchanges with stakeholders attempting to address the need for reform. We suggest in conclusion that ethical considerations are less about casting a value judgment and more about creating a process for meaningful conversation throughout an institution and its stakeholders. (shrink)
In the midst of greed, corruption, the economic crash and the general disillusionment of business, current conceptions of leadership, organizational values, and authenticity are being questioned. In this article, we fill a prior research gap by directly exploring the intersection of these three concepts. We begin by delving into the relationship between individual values and organizational values. This analysis reveals that the “value fit” approach to creating authenticity is limited, and also indicates that a deeper exploration of the nature of (...) values and the role of leadership is necessary. More specifically, we propose that organizational values should be viewed as an opportunity for ongoing conversations about who we are and how we connect. Through this type of dialogue which we define as “value through conversation”, we can create what we call poetic organizations. A typology of four interconnected values each of which forms a foundation for the critical questioning and inquiry that might be found in poetic organizations is developed. We suggest that this conceptualization offers a new and dynamic approach for thinking about the relationships between leadership, values, and authenticity and has important implications for both research and practice. (shrink)
The purpose of this paper is to suggest that at least one strain of what has come to be called “stakeholder theory” has roots that are deeply libertarian. We begin by explicating both “stakeholder theory” and “libertarian arguments.” We show how there are libertarian arguments for both instrumental and normative stakeholder theory, and we construct a version of capitalism, called “stakeholder capitalism,” that builds on these libertarian ideas. We argue throughout that strong notions of “freedom” and “voluntary action” are the (...) best possible underpinnings for stakeholder theory, and in doing so, seek to return “stakeholder theory” to its managerial and libertarian roots found in Freeman. (shrink)
The development of an ethical perspective of HRM that is both employee centered and explicitly normative and, as such, distinct from dominant and criticalperspectives of HRM has progressed in recent years. Reliance on the traditional “threesome” of rights/justice theories, deontology and consequentialism, however, has limited debate to micro-level issues and the search for a “solution.” By understanding the employment relationship as a stakeholder relationship, we open the ethical analysis of HRM to the pluralism and pragmatism that stakeholder theory has to (...) offer. In doing this, we can address both the broader need for HRM to offer a more comprehensive account of our humanity and the specific requisite for HRM to treat employees as moral persons with “names and faces.”. (shrink)
This book is a unique collection of essays by the leading scholars in business ethics. The purpose of the volume is to examine the emergence of business ethics as an important element of managerial practice and as an integral area of scholarship. The four lead essays--by Norman Bowie, Kenneth Goodpaster, Thomas Donaldson, and Ezra Bowen--are examples of some of the best thinking about the role of ethics in business. These essays examine such issues as the nature of scholarship and knowledge (...) in business ethics, how ethics is a central factor in managerial leadership, the complexities of ethics in multinational and multicultural settings, and the problems of ethical literacy and moral debate in a free society. Each lead essay develops several themes which are then explored by other prominent thinkers, including Robert Solomon, Richard DeGeorge, and Joanne Cuilla. (shrink)
Employee monitoring has raised concerns from all areas of society - business organizations, employee interest groups, privacy advocates, civil libertarians, lawyers, professional ethicists, and every combination possible. Each advocate has its own rationale for or against employee monitoring whether it be economic, legal, or ethical. However, no matter what the form of reasoning, seven key arguments emerge from the pool of analysis. These arguments have been used equally from all sides of the debate. The purpose of this paper is to (...) examine the seven key arguments that have been made with respect to employee monitoring. None of these arguments is conclusive and each calls for managerial and moral consideration. We conclude that a more comprehensive inquiry with ethical concern at the center is necessary to make further progress on understanding the complexity of employee monitoring. The final section of this paper sketches out how such an inquiry would proceed. (shrink)
In this paper, we review two seemingly unrelated debates. In business ethics, the argument is about values: are they universal or emergent? In entrepreneurship, it is about opportunities – are they discovered or constructed? In reality, these debates are similar as they both overlook contingency. We draw insight from pragmatism to define contingency as possibility without necessity. We analyze real-life narratives and show how entrepreneurship and ethics emerge from our discussion as parallel streams of thought.
The purpose of this paper is to analyze the role of values in strategic management. We discuss recent criticisms of the concept of strategy and argue that the concept of value helps reconcile these criticisms with traditional models of strategy. We show that Andrews' model of corporate strategy rightly takes morally significant values to be essential to effective management. We show how the notion of value can be clarified and used in research into various conceptions of corporate morality.
Business is undergoing a conceptual revolution. Since the Global Financial Crisis there are many new ideas and proposals to make capitalism more responsible. The purpose of this paper is to identify key flaws in the “old story” of capitalism. Six principles are explained that taken together form the basis for a new story of business, one of responsible capitalism.
The purpose of this paper is to draw out and make explicit the assumptions made in the treatment of technology within business ethics. Drawing on the work of Freeman (1994, 2000) on the assumed separation between business and ethics, we propose a similar separation exists in the current analysis of technology and ethics. After first identifying and describing the separation thesis assumed in the analysis of technology, we will explore how this assumption manifests itself in the current literature. A different (...) stream of analysis, that of science and technology studies (STS), provides a starting point in understanding the interconnectedness of technology and society. As we will demonstrate, business ethicists are uniquely positioned to analyze the relationship between business, technology, and society. The implications of a more complex and rich definition of lsquotechnologyrsquo ripple through the analysis of business ethics. Finally, we propose a pragmatic approach to understanding technology and explore the implications of such an approach to technology. This new approach captures the broader understanding of technology advocated by those in STS and allows business ethicists to analyze a broader array of dilemmas and decisions. (shrink)
We review both the aspects of values-related research that complicate ideations of what we ought to do, as well as the psychological impediments to forming beliefs about the way things are. We find that more traditional moral theories are without solid empirical footing in the psychology of human values. Consequently, we revise the notion of values to align with their socially symbolic utility in self-affirmation and reformulate our understandings of moral agency to allow for the practicalities of context, circumstance, and (...) connectedness. We close by discussing the research and practical implications for these revisions. (shrink)
This latest book in the Ruffin Series in Business Ethics is the first work to analyze the significance of gender in the ethical management of business organizations. Scholars from the fields of business ethics and women's studies come together in this book to offer fresh new perspectives on business ethics. The contributors examine the value of feminist theory and scholarship for business ethics, and from this examination four overarching themes emerge. The first theme is that corporations are socially constructed organizations (...) that assume, in their practice and ideology, that men are the standard of measurement. Secondly, this work highlights the power of feminist critiques to bring gender into focus as a central organizing principle of economic life. The third theme explores the existence of "frames," unexamined habits of mind that are taken for granted and prevent alternative ways of thinking, especially about the role of women at the periphery of organizations. The fourth theme is that business ethics itself has been feminized in its subordinate position relative to the dominant fields in the hierarchy of business management, such as finance and strategy. Women's Studies and Business Ethics brings together some of the most important thinkers on organizations and gender issues today. The confluence of experts in these hitherto disparate fields, and the rich and lively dialogue it produces, results in a book that will be fascinating reading for scholars, students, and professionals involved in all aspects of business and management. (shrink)
This latest volume in the acclaimed Ruffin Series in Business Ethics brings together the contributions to the annual Ruffin Lecture series, in which some of the leading scholars in business ethics addressed the question: Can business, and business education, be considered one of the humanities, or is it in a class by itself? At a time when business is coming under attack for its apparent transgressions, this book iluminates the special values that inhere in the business world. Arguing all sides (...) of the issue, the distinguished contributors include Richard DeGeorge, Ronald Green, Thomas Dunfee, Robert Solomon, Edwin Hartman, Peter French, Patricia Werhane, Clarence Walton, W. Michael Hoffman, David Fedo, Kenneth Andrews, Joanne Ciulla, Manuel Velasquez, and George Brenkert. The editors contribute an informative Introduction and an Epilogue to set the debate in its proper context. (shrink)
In the contemporary flurry of hostile corporate takeover activity, the ethics of the practice of greenmail have been called into question. The authors provide an account of greenmail in parallel with Daniel Ellsberg's conception of blackmail, as consisting of two conditions: a threat condition and a compliance condition.The analysis then proceeds to consider two questions: Is all greenmail morally wrong? Are all hostile takeovers morally wrong? The authors conclude that there is no basis for answering either question in the affirmative. (...) While there is no cause for moral concern per se, the practices of both greenmail and hostile takeovers yield deeper and more interesting questions for the theory of corporate governance. (shrink)
At the forefront of international concerns about global legislation and regulation, a host of noted environmentalists and business ethicists examine ethical issues in consumption from the points of view of environmental sustainability, economic development, and free enterprise.