Managing for Stakeholders: Trade-offs or Value Creation
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One of the central uses of stakeholder theory, in its original form, was as a counterpoint to the idea that corporations should be managed in the interests of shareholders. As the theory developed the debate was often framed in terms of “shareholders vs. stakeholders.” While developing “theories of the firm” is an interesting and useful project, focusing solely on “theory of the firm” obscures a more important contribution of stakeholder theory. The purpose of this brief essay is to set forth what I consider to be the central insight of stakeholder theory: the jointness of stakeholder interests.
The Basic Idea
The basic idea of “managing for stakeholders,” as I now see it, is quite simple, and I believe it is closer to the origins of the idea from Eric Rhenman and the Tavistock thinkers. In fact, Juha Nasi was correct in his assessment of the Scandinavian origins of the stakeholder idea that focus on what holds stakeholder interests together. Nasi originally suggested that we focus on...