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Normative Stakeholder Theory

Stakeholder Management

ISBN: 978-1-78714-408-8, eISBN: 978-1-78714-407-1

Publication date: 23 May 2017


Theories of management require normative justification; that is, they rely on some conception of what is morally good, right, and just. This chapter examines some of the normative reasons for adopting a stakeholder theory of management and for rejecting the once, and perhaps still, “dominant” shareholder-centric approach. This chapter then surveys some of the prominent “normative cores” that are used to ground stakeholder theory, that is, Kantian, contractarian, feminist ethics, and ethical pragmatism, and the moral obligations that each normative approach generates. Some pressing questions are raised with respect to each normative approach. To what extent ought we to recognize imperfect obligations to shareholders? Are contractarian hypernorms morally substantive? How exactly should we care about stakeholders, and is care even an appropriate attitudinal response? Without some commitment to objective ethical standards, how can pragmatists resolve stakeholder conflict?



Zakhem, A. and Palmer, D.E. (2017), "Normative Stakeholder Theory", Stakeholder Management (Business and Society 360, Vol. 1), Emerald Publishing Limited, Leeds, pp. 49-73.



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