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Stakeholder power play: Delta Airlines, voter rights and Georgia Senate Bill 202

Stephanie Raible (Department of Business Administration, University of Delaware, Newark, Delaware, USA)
Olugbenga Adeyinka (Department of Economics, Finance and Management, Manhattanville College, Purchase, New York, USA)
Sarah Holtzen (Department of Business Administration, Missouri Southern State University, Joplin, Missouri, USA)
Megan Douglas (Department of Business Administration, Missouri Southern State University, Joplin, Missouri, USA)

Publication date: 12 April 2022

Issue publication date: 4 May 2022


Theoretical basis

This case addresses stakeholder theory by asking students to consider the various entities that have a vested interest in Delta’s response to the passage of the Senate Bill (SB) 202. Stakeholder theory holds that businesses are responsible to broader constituents in society and not only to stockholders/shareholders or owners. This perspective suggests that businesses do not exist to maximize profit alone but also to enhance society in their day-to-day decisions. To this end, stakeholders are defined as entities that affect or are affected by an organization’s decisions. Stakeholder theory is based on three arguments: descriptive, instrumental and normative arguments.

Research methodology

The information presented in the case was sourced from secondary sources, including both company and media publications. Several media sources from a breadth of political orientations were used to capture the complexity of the issue and the decision at hand. The case development and premise started at the Eastern Academy of Management 2021 Annual Conference Case Hackathon. The case was piloted by eight students (seven undergraduates, one graduate student) in two different courses at two institutions. The student feedback helped to highlight where clarifications were needed within the case and resulted in modifications to the exhibits, appendices and discussion questions.

Case overview/synopsis

On March 26, 2021, the media was buzzing about the passage of the Georgia SB 202, which included voting regulations perceived to negatively target black voters. As the head of the state’s largest employer, Delta Airlines’ Chief Executive Officer Edward Bastian found himself at the center of a heated political issue. While Delta had initially shown support for the bill, the rise in opposing voices and pressure to boycott Delta presented increasing pressure to think about its various stakeholders and potentially reevaluate the company’s handling of the situation. Should Bastiasn stay consistent with Delta’s initial support of SB 202, speak out to oppose it or remain silent?

Complexity academic level

Undergraduate students within business ethics or business in society courses are the best audiences for the case. The case may also be used in courses that have a portion of their content on business ethics or business in society; these related courses with subsections, modules or themes in this area may include corporate strategy, social responsibility and political activism.



Disclaimer. This case is intended to be used as the basis for class discussion rather than to illustrate either effective or ineffective handling of a management situation. The case was compiled from published sources.


Raible, S., Adeyinka, O., Holtzen, S. and Douglas, M. (2022), "Stakeholder power play: Delta Airlines, voter rights and Georgia Senate Bill 202", , Vol. 18 No. 3, pp. 463-483.



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