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The Stakeholders as Investors: A Response to Etzioni

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  23 January 2015

Abstract:

In a recent contribution to this journal, Etzioni (1998) has introduced a “communitarian note on stakeholder theory” based on a principle of fairness. While we do not challenge the principle of fairness itself, we claim that when this principle is applied only to those who invest in the corporation, it cannot serve as the ground for an ethical stakeholder theory. A focus on low-skilled workers as a stakeholder group will help us to illustrate this claim.

Type
Response Articles
Copyright
Copyright © Society for Business Ethics 1999

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References

Notes

1 “A Communitarian Note on Stakeholder Theory,” Business Ethics Quarterly 8, no. 4 (1998): 679–691.

2 This concept of fairness is rather different from, and should not be mistaken for, the principle of fairness introduced in R. A. Phillips, “Stakeholder Theory and a Principle of Fairness,” Business Ethics Quarterly 7, no. 1 (1997): 51–66.

3 Etzioni, “A Communitarian Note on Stakeholder Theory,” p. 682.

4 Ibid.

5 Ibid., pp. 682–83.

6 Ibid., p. 683.

7 Retirement benefits are a return on the worker’s personal financial investment during his work life, and not a return on his work per se.

8 Etzioni, “A Communitarian Note on Stakeholder Theory,” p. 683.

9 Evan, W. M. and Freeman, R. E., “A Stakeholder Theory of the Modern Corporation: Kantian Capitalism,” in Ethical Theory and Business, ed. T. Beauchamp and N. Bowie, (Engle-wood Cliffs, N.J.: Prentice-Hall, 1988), pp. 101–105, my emphasis. Several other definitions concord with this one, e.g. “Stakeholders are groups or individuals who either are such that the firm’s decisions to act, or decisions not to act, have been or will be to a significant extent causally responsible for their level of well being, or else have some independently identifiable moral or legal claim on the firm which the firm’s actions violate or respect.” B. Langtry, “Stakeholders and the Moral Responsibilities of Business,” Business Ethics Quarterly 4, no. 4 (1994): 433.

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