By Robert Phillips
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Extra info for Stakeholder Theory and Organizational Ethics
I maintain that these same conditions imply a greater need for organizational-level policies and individual responsibility and recognition of stakeholder obligations rather than supernational laws, taxes, and regulations. When everyone in the world is a stakeholder of everyone else, the term adds little if any value and the critics’ charge of conceptual emptiness becomes a rather convincing one. 46 These discussions often proceed to describe a stakeholder economy in which the stakeholder model is enforced by the state.
Furthermore, the belief that maximizing “the total market value of the firm” or “long-term owner value” is more determinate than the balancing of stakeholder interests may itself prove dangerous due to what I term the delusion of determinacy. That is, under conditions of uncertainty and bounded rationality, managers may be led to believe that the standard objective function dictates action in a way that is more specific than stakeholder theory. It does not, and the belief that it does gives managers an unfounded sense of confidence in their 24 Stakeholder Theory and Organizational Ethics decisions.
The difference lies in how obligations are originally generated among individuals and organizations. On the stakeholder society account, obligations and the associated benefits simply exist among people. As here conceived, stakeholder obligations require some voluntary action and, in contrast to duties, exist between discrete entities rather than as a diffuse, all-inclusive concept. Stakeholder theory is a comprehensive moral doctrine. In his discussion of the idea of an overlapping consensus, Rawls distinguishes between his own theory and what he terms “comprehensive moral doctrines”.