Stakeholder Theory
Show Less

Stakeholder Theory

Impact and Prospects

Edited by Robert A. Phillips

Honoring the twenty-fifth anniversary of R. Edward Freeman’s Strategic Management: A Stakeholder Approach, one of the most influential books in the history of business strategy and ethics, this work assembles a collection of contributions from some of the most renowned and widely-cited scholars working in the area of stakeholder scholarship today.
Buy Book in Print
Show Summary Details
You do not have access to this content

Chapter 1: Bounding the World’s Miseries: Corporate Responsibility and Freeman’s Stakeholder Theory

Heather Elms, Michael E. Johnson-Cramer and Shawn L. Berman


Heather Elms, Michael E. Johnson-Cramer and Shawn L. Berman Both academic and popular discussions of corporate social responsibility (CSR) commonly reference stakeholder theory as a foundational perspective. In doing so, many specifically cite R. Edward Freeman’s (1984) book, Strategic Management: A Stakeholder Approach. Much of this referential work, however, neglects Freeman’s critical analysis therein of the relationship between stakeholder theory and then-prevalent notions of CSR. Moreover, in his 1984 contribution and elsewhere, Freeman sets out a theoretical foundation that, though far-reaching, remains acutely aware of its boundary conditions. Many stakeholder theorists subsequently trying to build on Freeman’s foundation remain similarly circumspect and go to great lengths to delimit stakeholder theory in important ways, paying careful attention to ‘what stakeholder theory is not’ (for example, Phillips, Freeman and Wicks, 2003). At all turns, these theorists contend that Freeman’s stakeholder theory is not ‘a basket big enough to hold the world’s miseries’ (Clarkson, 1994: 9). To date, though, the boundaries between stakeholder research and CSR remain relatively uncharted. Using an empirical analysis of citations of Freeman (1984) as a foundation for CSR in the academic literature as a starting point, we explore these boundaries and identify the benefits of both establishing and crossing them. FREEMAN’S STAKEHOLDER THEORY AND CSR Freeman’s stakeholder theory has always been an explicitly strategic one (see also Harrison, this volume). Strategic Management: A Stakeholder Approach – his first comprehensive formulation of the theory (1984) – was written as a strategy, not an ethics, text (see Freeman, 2004 and 2005 for...

You are not authenticated to view the full text of this chapter or article.

Elgaronline requires a subscription or purchase to access the full text of books or journals. Please login through your library system or with your personal username and password on the homepage.

Non-subscribers can freely search the site, view abstracts/ extracts and download selected front matter and introductory chapters for personal use.

Your library may not have purchased all subject areas. If you are authenticated and think you should have access to this title, please contact your librarian.

Further information

or login to access all content.