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Preface

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  05 June 2012

R. Edward Freeman
Affiliation:
University of Virginia
Jeffrey S. Harrison
Affiliation:
University of Richmond, Virginia
Andrew C. Wicks
Affiliation:
University of Virginia
Bidhan L. Parmar
Affiliation:
University of Virginia
Simone de Colle
Affiliation:
University of Virginia
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Summary

For the past thirty years a group of scholars has developed the idea that a business has stakeholders – that is, there are groups and individuals who have a stake in the success or failure of a business. There are many different ways of understanding this concept and there is a burgeoning area of academic research in both business and applied ethics on so-called “stakeholder theory.” The purpose of this book is to examine critically this body of research and assess its relevance for our understanding of business in the twenty-first century. In this volume we attempt to explain and assess stakeholder theory so that any scholar or doctoral student or interested reader can find their own way through this literature by reading this book.

The stakeholder theory literature seems to represent an abrupt departure from the usual understanding of business as a vehicle to maximize returns to the owners of capital. This more mainstream view – call it “shareholder capitalism,” or “the standard account” – has recently come under much criticism, and the “stakeholder view” is often put forward as an alternative. Our assessment of this debate is that, despite a great deal of theorizing, there is little direct conflict between the shareholder view and the stakeholder view. In fact, we argue that the stakeholder view is a more useful way of understanding modern capitalism.

Type
Chapter
Information
Stakeholder Theory
The State of the Art
, pp. xv - xviii
Publisher: Cambridge University Press
Print publication year: 2010

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