Stakeholder thinking

Kenneth E. Goodpaster

In this chapter I examine a broad set of approaches to organizational decision making that I will refer to as “stakeholder thinking.” Stakeholder thinking is a normative ethical approach to decision making that emphasizes corporate responsibilities to individuals, groups, and institutions including, when applicable, fiduciary obligations owed to investors and shareholders. I favor the phrase “stakeholder thinking” over “stakeholder theory” because it is more generic.1 Understood in this way, stakeholder thinking is frequently offered as a proxy for what some would call the “conscience” of the corporation.2

One way to get an historical perspective on stakeholder thinking is to view a Google NGRAM ...

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