Journal of Business Ethics

, Volume 64, Issue 3, pp 285-301

First online:

Stakeholder Theory and Managerial Decision-Making: Constraints and Implications of Balancing Stakeholder Interests

  • Scott J. ReynoldsAffiliated withBusiness School, University of Washington Email author 
  • , Frank C. SchultzAffiliated withBusiness School, University of Washington
  • , David R. HekmanAffiliated withBusiness School, University of Washington

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Stakeholder theory is widely recognized as a management theory, yet very little research has considered its implications for individual managerial decision-making. In the two studies reported here, we used stakeholder theory to examine managerial decisions about balancing stakeholder interests. Results of Study 1 suggest that indivisible resources and unequal levels of stakeholder saliency constrain managers’ efforts to balance stakeholder interests. Resource divisibility also influenced whether managers used a within-decision or an across-decision approach to balance stakeholder interests. In Study 2 we examined instrumental and normative implications of these two approaches. We conclude by considering the contributions of this research.


stakeholder management ethical decision-making balancing stakeholder interests