Journal of Business Ethics

, Volume 23, Issue 2, pp 185–197 | Cite as

The Environment as a Stakeholder? A Fairness-Based Approach

  • Robert A. Phillips
  • Joel Reichart


Stakeholder theory is often unable to distinguish those individuals and groups that are stakeholders from those that are not. This problem of stakeholder identity has recently been addressed by linking stakeholder theory to a Rawlsian principle of fairness. To illustrate, the question of stakeholder status for the non-human environment is discussed. This essay criticizes a past attempt to ascribe stakeholder status to the non-human environment, which utilized a broad definition of the term "stakeholder." This paper then demonstrates how, despite the denial of stakeholder status, the environment is nonetheless accounted for on a fairness-based approach through legitimate organizational stakeholders. In addition, since stakeholder theory has never claimed to be a comprehensive ethical scheme, it is argued that sound reasons might exist for managers to consider their organization's impact on the environment that are not stakeholder-related.


Economic Growth Stakeholder Theory Broad Definition Organizational Stakeholder Sound Reason 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.


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Copyright information

© Kluwer Academic Publishers 2000

Authors and Affiliations

  • Robert A. Phillips
    • 1
  • Joel Reichart
    • 2
  1. 1.School of BusinessGeorgetown UniversityWashingtonU.S.A.
  2. 2.Graduate School of Business AdministrationFordham UniversityBronxU.S.A.

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