The Stakeholder Theory

Topics: Stakeholder, Stakeholder theory, Management Pages: 39 (11687 words) Published: April 18, 2011
The Stakeholder Theory of the Corporation: Concepts, Evidence, and Implications Author(s): Thomas Donaldson and Lee E. Preston Source: The Academy of Management Review, Vol. 20, No. 1 (Jan., 1995), pp. 65-91 Published by: Academy of Management Stable URL: Accessed: 20/04/2010 23:08 Your use of the JSTOR archive indicates your acceptance of JSTOR's Terms and Conditions of Use, available at JSTOR's Terms and Conditions of Use provides, in part, that unless you have obtained prior permission, you may not download an entire issue of a journal or multiple copies of articles, and you may use content in the JSTOR archive only for your personal, non-commercial use. Please contact the publisher regarding any further use of this work. Publisher contact information may be obtained at Each copy of any part of a JSTOR transmission must contain the same copyright notice that appears on the screen or printed page of such transmission. JSTOR is a not-for-profit service that helps scholars, researchers, and students discover, use, and build upon a wide range of content in a trusted digital archive. We use information technology and tools to increase productivity and facilitate new forms of scholarship. For more information about JSTOR, please contact

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Academy of Management 1995, Vol. 20, No. 1, 65-91.


THEORY THE THE STAKEHOLDER OF CONCEPTS, EVIDENCE, CORPORATION: AND IMPLICATIONS THOMAS DONALDSON Georgetown University LEE E. PRESTON University of Maryland The stakeholder theory has been advanced and justified in the management literature on the basis of its descriptive accuracy, instrumental power, and normative validity. These three aspects of the theory, although interrelated, are quite distinct; they involve different types of evidence and argument and have different implications. In this article, we examine these three aspects of the theory and critique and integrate important contributions to the literature related to each. We conclude that the three aspects of stakeholder theory are mutually supportive and that the normative base of the theory-which includes the modern theory of property rights-is fundamental. If the unity of the corporate body is real, then there is reality and not simply legal fiction in the proposition that the managers of the unit are fiduciaries for it and not merely for its individual members, that they are . . . trustees for an institution [with multiple constituents] rather than attorneys for the stockholders. E. Merrick Dodd, Jr.

Harvard Law Review, 1932 The idea that corporations have stakeholders has now become commonplace in the management literature, both academic and professional. Since the publication of Freeman's landmark book, Strategic Management: A Stakeholder Approach (1984), about a dozen books and more than 100 articles with primary emphasis on the stakeholder concept have appeared. (Significant recent examples include books by Alkhafaji, 1989; Anderson, 1989; and Brummer, 1991; and articles by Brenner & Cochran, 1991; Clarkson, 1991; Goodpaster, 1991; Hill & Jones, 1992; and Wood, 1991a,b; plus numerous papers by Freeman and various collaborators,

The development of this article benefited greatly from discussions held at the Conference on Stakeholder Theory at the University of Toronto, May 1993, and from the specific comments of many people, including Professors Aupperle, Carroll, Clarkson, Halal, Freeman, Jones, and Sethi. 65


Academy of Management Review


individually cited.) Stakeholder management is the central theme of at least one important recent business and society text (Carroll, 1989), and a diagram purporting to...

References: Dill, W. R. 1958. Environment as an influence on managerial Science Quarterly, 2: 409-443.
Inc. v. Time, Inc. 1990. Del. Supr., 571 A. 2d 1140.
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