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A Stakeholder Theory of the Modern Corporation. by R. Edward Freeman. Remember --. (Milton) Friedman ≠ (Edward) Freeman Shareholder ≠ Stakeholder. Milton (Friedman)

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remember
Remember --

(Milton) Friedman ≠ (Edward) Freeman

Shareholder ≠ Stakeholder

milton friedman vs edward freeman
Milton (Friedman)

The only group that has a moral claim on the corporation is the people who own shares of the stock (that is, the shareholders).

Edward (Freeman)

Many groups have a moral claim on the corporation because the corporation has the potential to harm or benefit them (call these groups stakeholders).

Milton (Friedman) vs. Edward (Freeman)
who are these stakeholders
Who are these stakeholders?
  • Owners (that is, the shareholders).
  • The corporate managers themselves.
  • The local community (and at least sometimes a broader community – regional, national, global).
  • The customers.
  • The employees.
  • The suppliers.
what characterizes these stakeholders
What characterizes these stakeholders?
  • They are vital to the survival and success of the corporation.
  • Their relationship with the corporation enables them to be benefited by the corporation’s actions and operations.
  • This relationship also makes it possible for the corporation to harm them or to violate their rights.
for example the last uaw gm strike
For example, the lastUAW-GM strike.
  • GM obviously could not operate without a workforce (UAW is vital to GM’s success).
  • The UAW workers could receive substantial benefits from GM – high wages, job security, retiree benefits, etc.
  • GM could substantially harm UAW workers, and vice versa.
  • So, the UAW workers were a legitimate stakeholder group for GM, and GM consequently had to take them into account in making its corporate decisions.
what is edward freeman s argument for his theory
What is Edward (Freeman’s) argument for his theory?
  • The “legal argument” – Society has substantially limited the unrestricted pursuit of profit via laws and regulations. This means Milton (Friedman’s) theory is hypothetical and essentially useless.
  • The “economic argument” – Milton (Friedman’s) theory assumes there are no economic externalities, moral hazards in the form of pass-along costs, or monopolies. But all of these really exist, so his shareholder theory is false.
so what does edward freeman s theory require corporations to do
So, what does Edward (Freeman’s) theory require corporations to do?
  • Corporations have to take all of the stakeholder groups into account when making a decision.
  • But, there are many different ways to take them into account – for example,
    • Kantian ethics
    • Utilitarian ethics
    • Rawls’ theory about justice
edward freeman s kantian example
Edward (Freeman’s) Kantian example.
  • Paying attention to customer’s needs → stable business processes (sales of products and purchases of raw materials).
  • But paying attention to customer’s needs IS a Kantian treatment of the customer as an end rather than exploiting them as a means only.
edward freeman s rawlsian example
Edward (Freeman’s) Rawlsian example.
  • View the mutual relationships among a corporation’s stakeholders as a set of contracts. Then ask, “What would assure the fairness of these?”
    • Basic equality among the stakeholders in terms of their moral rights (each “contract” is as morally important as the others).
    • Inequalities in the amount of benefits to the stakeholder groups demonstrably raise the level of the least well-off stakeholder group.
how do friedman and freeman differ in analyzing a case
How do Friedman and Freeman differ in analyzing a case?
  • (Milton) Friedman says to maximize profit a) within the law and b) without violating social standards.
    • So, in looking at a business decision (or analyzing a case), identify relevant laws and regulations – and also identify current social standards and opinions.
    • Maximize profit without breaking laws/regulations AND without “disturbing” society so much that it decreases profits.
  • (Edward) Freeman says to a) identify stakeholder groups and b) make a decision that “takes them into account.”
    • So, in looking at a business decision (or analyzing a case), identify all stakeholder groups.
    • Identify available options and determine the effect they will have on the stakeholders.
    • Select and apply an ethical theory to these options to determine the best one.