Keywords

stakeholder theory, pragmatism, pluralism

Abstract

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.

Document Type

Book Chapter

Publication Date

2018

Publisher

Cambridge University Press

Language

English

College

Marriott School of Management

Department

Management

University Standing at Time of Publication

Full Professor

Included in

Business Commons

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