Towards a Stakeholder Society: Stakeholder Theory vs Theory of Civil Society
12 Pages Posted: 18 Dec 2010
Date Written: 2010
Associating the concept of civil society with stakeholder theory has become a common practice. The point of view put forward here attribute paternity of the stakeholder theory essentially to Freeman as a strategic framework for business studies and practices (1981, 1983, 1984, 1985, 1987, 2001, 2004), as a strong framework for political and moral philosophy (1988, 1994, 1998), as an inescapable framework for business ethics (2000). In order to take into account the advancement bringing by Freeman, the intention of this article is to demonstrate the degree to which stakeholder theory can be considered as a theory of civil society, which in turn is a theory of business. The argument will be based on the following points: Stakeholder theory occupies an intermediate position between strategic management and political philosophy in that it presents a new form of sovereignty, the sovereignty of big business; Stakeholder theory is a strategic theory; whether it legitimises, relativises or neutralises the sovereignty of the firm, it conceptualises and situates it in relation to other models; Stakeholder theory can be understood as a theory of civil society for the 21st century but it cannot be a substitute for a civil society theory devised in the 19th century; Stakeholder theory can thus be considered as affording a strategic perspective that, although somewhat unfamiliar, serves as the foundation of business ethics.
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