stakeholder theory, again


I was just now preparing my presentation for an Academy of Management conference symposium (titled – “Stakeholders in Organization Theory and Strategic Management: Opportunities and Obstacles”) and ran into this quote:

A stakeholder theory of the firm must redefine the purpose of the firm…The very purpose of the firm is, in our view, to serve as a vehicle for coordinating stakeholder interests (Evan & Freeman, 1993: 102-103).

Hmm, I will have quite a bit to say about this and other even more disturbing quotes that I ran into (well, at least their general ethos). I guess the quotes aren’t necessarily disturbing in and of themselves (in fact, they are very idealistic and even virtuous), but somehow they lack any grounding in reality and seem atheoretical. That is, a stakeholder agenda (perhaps a better word than a theory) with consideration for all the various constituents that are raised under its label – environment, employees, government, suppliers, society (don’t we all have our favorite) – fundamentally misses the point of the need to prioritize, the need to consider costs, the need to bound the arguments, and, well, a need for a theory. But, I could very well be wrong.

Anyway, it promises to be a great symposium (organized by Alison Mackey) and discussion – others presenting include Jay Barney, Amy Hillman, Joe Mahoney, and Jim Walsh.

Written by teppo

August 2, 2006 at 11:28 pm

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