stakeholder theory, pragmatism, pluralism
Donaldson and Preston (1995) defined the three pillars of stakeholder as descriptive, instrumental, and normative. Because of their close alignment between the instrumental and normative pillars and the moral philosophies of utilitarianism and deontology, the latter became the default moral foundations of stakeholder theory. In this chapter, we argue that the moral foundation of the descriptive pillar, pragmatism, provides a moral foundation for twenty-first century stakeholder theory. As we show, pragmatism and its close cousin pluralism fits a stakeholder theory concerned with the descriptive questions that characterize current work in stakeholder theory. Pragmatism and pluralism both see eudemonia, or human flourishing, as the outcome of moral choice. Stakeholder theory also advances an agenda of human flourishing, as positive relationships between businesses and their stakeholders contributes to individual and societal eudemonia.
BYU ScholarsArchive Citation
Godfrey, Paul C. and Lewis, Ben William, "Pragmatism and pluralism: A moral foundation for stakeholder theory in the 21st century" (2018). All Faculty Publications. 2073.
Cambridge University Press
Marriott School of Management
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