Business & Society (2023)
In this paper, de Colle, Freeman and Wicks present their view on "Humanistic Business Ethics", a new way to think about business and business ethics research, based on the evolution of both normative and descriptive business ethics theory combined with key ideas of stakeholder theory and pragmatism.
Humanistic Business Ethics (HBE):
The HBE research model invites scholars not to start their research with normative conceptualizations or empirical descriptions, but rather to adopt a mixed vocabulary reflecting the fact/value entanglement.
This new perspective can help business and society scholars undertake fruitful inquiries into the way business works (and should work) at its best.
In 1984, R. Edward Freeman published his landmark book, Strategic Management: A Stakeholder Approach, a work that set the agenda for what we now call stakeholder theory. In the intervening years, the literature on stakeholder theory has become vast and diverse. This book examines this body of research and assesses its relevance for our understanding of modern business. Beginning with a discussion of the origins and development of stakeholder theory, it shows how this corpus of theory has influenced a variety of different fields, including strategic management, finance, accounting, management, marketing, law, health care, public policy, and environment. It also features in-depth discussions of two important areas that stakeholder theory has helped to shape and define: business ethics and corporate social responsibility. The book concludes by arguing that we should re-frame capitalism in the terms of stakeholder theory so that we come to see business as creating value for stakeholders.
‘The book is a great tool for those who want to have a deep understanding of different perspectives of stakeholder theory. It draws together research of over thirty years as it has been applied in a number of business contexts, in a way that allows readers to understand the evolution of theory, how it has been applied and what future avenues need exploration. Michael Jay Polonsky - Deakin University, Melbourne
‘Ed Freeman and his colleagues have produced an erudite, subtle, vigorously argued account of stakeholder theory. Their provocative book will not be the last word on the subject, but it is the best contribution so far to an extraordinarily important conversation.’ Edwin Hartman - New York University
Editors: S. Dmytriyev & R. E. Freeman
Springer, 21 September 2023.
This book (56 chapters!) provides a key overview of Ed Freeman’s major works over his very productive career. It showcases important work on stakeholder theory as well as business ethics, humanities, and capitalism, including:
Journal of Business Ethics (2017)
The paper considers two main cases of how the creative arts can inform a greater appreciation of human dignity. The first case explores a form of theater, Commedia dell’Arte that has deep roots in Italian culture. The second recounts a set of theater exercises done with very minimal direction or self-direction in executive education and MBA courses at the Darden School, University of Virginia, in the United States. In both cases we highlight how the creative arts can be important for promoting human dignity in organizations, and how they can lead to a more authentic conversation about values, ethics, and meaning.
Business Ethics, the Environment & Responsibility
This paper aims to integrate insights from psychoanalytic theory into business ethics research on the sources of ethical failures within organizations. We particularly draw from the analysis of sources and outcomes of neurotic processes that are part of human development, as described by the psychoanalyst Karen Horney and more recently by Manfred Kets de Vries; we interpret their insights from a stakeholder theory perspective. Business ethics research seems to have overlooked how “neurotic management styles” could be the antecedents of unethical behavior within organizations. After showing the connection between five managerial neuroses and the corresponding potential ethical failures within organizations that have been already identified within business ethics research, we suggest three organizational strategies to counteract these failures. First, we argue that managers should pay greater attention at the complexity of human motivation, avoiding the simplistic view of compliance‐based approaches. Second, we discuss the importance of developing a conversation around values within organizations, enabling healthy individual growth and limiting the emergence of neurotic processes. Finally, we discuss the role of the business ethicist in facilitating such a process, suggesting a parallel between the role of the business ethicist and that of the psychoanalytic therapist.
Editors: R. E. Freeman, Johanna Kujala, Sybille Sachs
his book offers a case-study approach to stakeholder theory that moves beyond theoretical analysis to the applied. As stakeholder theory has moved into the mainstream of management thinking in business ethics and a number of the management disciplines, there is an increasing need to explore the subtleties of stakeholder engagement via examples from practice. The case studies in this volume explore a number of aspects of the idea of stakeholder engagement, via the method of clinical case studies. Edited by leading scholars in the field of business ethics and stakeholder theory, this text affords a solid grounding in theory, brought to new levels of applied understanding of stakeholder engagement.
Journal of Business Ethics (2014). In this paper we provide a constructive criticism of Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) standards. After pointing out a number of benefits and limitations in the effectiveness of CSR standards, both from a theoretical point of view and in the light of empirical evidence, we formulate and discuss a Paradox of CSR standards: despite being well-intended, CSR standards can favor the emergence of a thoughtless, blind and blinkered mindset which is counterproductive of their aim of enhancing the social responsibility of the organization. We analyze three problems that might underlie the Paradox—namely the problem of deceptive measurements; the problem of responsibility erosion and the problem of blinkered culture. We apply the philosophical tradition of American Pragmatism to reflect on these issues in relation to different types of existing standards, and conclude by suggesting a number of considerations that could help both CSR standards developers and users to address the Paradox.
From the Preface by R. Edward Freeman, University Professor, Darden School of Business, University of Virginia:
This book is a terrific analysis of the issues and challenges of the modern
food and beverage industry. And, it breaks new theoretical ground in terms of Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) and Stakeholder Theory (ST). However, since the book is grounded in the practices of the industry it does not theorise at the expense of the real world. Rather it develops the ideas of CSR and ST in a reasonable way and shows how they can be understood through the industry. Thus, we learn simultaneously about theory and practice. This book will repay a close reading in many practical and theoretical insights. It is a must read for all students of CSR and ST, and every executive in the food and beverage industry should gain the many insights that the author has developed.