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Stakeholderteorien & Shareholderteorien: En politisk filosofisk undersøgelse

By Signe Helena Soegaard

Abstract

This report is a philosophical investigation of the debate on shareholder- and stakeholder theory. Both theories offer both normative as well as descriptive and instrumental arguments. Thus, there seems to lack a knockdown argument in favour of one or the other theory, which is why the debate appears to be continuous. The report will examine how political philosophy can help bring more clarity on the normative part of the Freeman - Friedman debate. The aim is thereby to investigate (1) whether a “common ground” exists or not and (2) in this connection to create an account on the debate: To clarify the perspectives and arguments of the different theories, on the basis of political philosophy. The critical investigation is based on “Shareholders vs. Stakeholders: How Liberal and Libetarian Political Philosophy Frames the Basic Debate in Business Ethics” (2013) by David Rönnegards og N. Craig Smith. The article seeks to clarify each theory’s underlying political reasons. Rönnegard and Smith argue that Stakeholder Equality Norm (SEN) and Stakeholder Primacy Norm (SPN) respectively represent the stakeholder theory and the shareholder theory as social norms within corporate governance. They argue that both stakeholder- and shareholder theory can be considered legitimate within Rawls ' liberal and Nozicks libertarian frameworks. Thus, the Friedman Freeman debate is by their perception a question of how to interpret the political philosophies: Liberalism and libertarianism. According to them political philosophy is important regarding the debate, not for the reason that the state and the company are related but due to the regulations the state can force on the company, where liberalism tends toward strong external regulations and libertarianism toward weak external- or internal regulations. Their study contributes with a practical solution to the debate: An acceptance of the democratic, political process. This report will contain the following parts: Firstly, the stakeholder- shareholder theory will be reviewed, as well as relevant parts of Rawls' “Justice as Fairness” and Nozicks liberalism will be explicated. Secondly, how the organisation theorists’ different understandings of the company lead to different methodological approaches to political philosophy will be unravelled. Thirdly, “Shareholders vs. Stakeholders: How Liberal and Libetarian Political Philosophy Frames the Basic Debate in Business Ethics” is examined, juxtaposed with my own critical observations. Finally, reasoning on the reports deductions will be made. The report find evidence that it can be concluded, that Freeman's defence of stakeholder rights and Friedman's defence of shareholder rights are both legitimate within libertarianism and in their keeping within Kant's categorical imperative. However, the report does take a critical stance towards Rönnegard and Smith's explanation on how liberalism considers SPN and SEN as legitimate, as well as the choice between the norms will exist of the one, which is the most efficient. The report argues that they do not account for the substantial adjustments, which will be forced on SPN, in order to maintain society’s background justice – as the firm and the state should be within agreement to ensure this. It seems that Rönnegard and Smith are turning to Rawls' difference principle before Rawls foregoing principles have been realised within the basic structure. On the basis of Rönnegard and Smiths’ article it is concluded that there exists a “common ground” for the shareholder - stakeholder debate in the form of an acceptance of the outcome of the democratic political process. Additionally, it seems that political philosophy helps to spread awareness on the Friedman-Freeman debate together with a possible conciliation, as political philosophies contribute to the clarification of the stakeholder- and shareholder theory’s reasoning in which a greater understanding and possible acceptance of their perspective can be obtained

Topics: Stakeholder theory, Shareholder theory
Year: 2015
OAI identifier: oai:rudar.ruc.dk:1800/23702
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