Critical Management Studies and Stakeholder Theory: Possibilities for a Critical Stakeholder Theory
40 Pages Posted: 28 Aug 2018 Last revised: 30 Aug 2018
Date Written: August 19, 2018
Despite being labeled as fearfully radical in its early days, stakeholder theory has grown up to be remarkably conservative. Depicted in its early days as being anti-managerial (an attempt to socialise business), it is increasing criticized as being managerialist (a vehicle for capitalist control and managerial opportunism). Indeed, in the intervening decades, the versions of stakeholder theory that have gained greatest purchase have been the most transactional, the most strategic, the most managerialist. Notwithstanding this history, we would argue, the seeds of transformation remain dormant in stakeholder theory waiting to be ignited. To this end we embark on an unusual endeavor, to develop critical stakeholder theory. We will engage the proposition that stakeholder theory can be made more meaningful if examined through a critical lens. For purposes of our analysis we draw explicitly on the scholarly oeuvre of critical management studies (CMS). We are not the first to be critical of stakeholder theory from this perspective, but we believe we are the first to invoke this critique to make stakeholder theory better rather than dismiss or destroy it.
Keywords: Critical Management Studies, Stakeholder Theory, Humanist, Structuralist, Feminist, Marxist, Postcolonialist, Subjectivist
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