A selection of interesting articles we found recently about stakeholder perspectives.

Is sustainable development biased towards humans as stakeholders?
Environmental education scholars have hailed the emergence of the discourse of education for sustainable development (ESD) as a progressive transition in the field. The author argues that there are some salient aspects present in sustainability discourse that present ethical paradoxes as well as empirical dilemmas. Discourse on sustainable development singles out economic development, which might have created the current ecological problems in the first place, as part of the solution.

It is empirically questionable whether the industrial production necessary to expand the ‘economic pie’ to include the most dispossessed, is possible without further degrading the environment. In an educational context, ESD replaces a problem orientation associated with environmental education and shifts the focus to the inclusion of social issues and economic development. ESD masks its anthropocentric agenda and may in fact be counterproductive to the efficacy of environmental education in fostering a citizenry that is prepared to address the anthropogenic causes of environmental problems.

Further information is available at: H. Kopnina. 2014. Revisiting Education for Sustainable Development (ESD): Examining Anthropocentric Bias Through the Transition of Environmental Education to ESD.
Sustainable Development, 22(2), 73–83.

Government as stakeholder in business
The growing popularisation of stakeholder theory among management scholars has offered a useful framework for understanding the multiple and interdependent roles of government and business in an increasingly challenging political and regulatory environment. Despite this trend, attention to the role and responsibility of government to protect citizen rights has been limited. To the two traditional stakeholder theory views of government where the focal organisation remains the firm, the authors propose to add two views by pivoting the government’s place and making it the focal organisation.

They thus describe governments as serving four roles in the business–government–society nexus (namely, “framework,” “business partner,” “interfering,” and “advocate”). For each role, the authors analyse typical governmental activities/behaviours, relationships with firms’ stakeholders, as well as the challenges and limits to these roles. They also focus on the central notion of salience amplification, as a means of checks and balances across stakeholders in order to safeguard citizen rights and reveal the greater good.

Read further at: Nicolas M. Dahan, Jonathan P. Doh & Jonathan D. Raelin. 2015. Pivoting the Role of Government in the Business and Society Interface: A Stakeholder Perspective.
Journal of Business Ethics, 131(3), 665-680.

Board diversity is positively related to a firm’s CSR
This study examines the impact of board diversity on firms’ corporate social responsibility (CSR) performance. Using seven different measures of board diversity across 1,489 U.S. firms from 1999 to 2011, the study finds that board diversity is positively associated with CSR performance. Board diversity is associated with a greater number of areas in which CSR is strong and a fewer number of areas in which CSR is a concern. These findings support the stakeholder theory and are consistent with the view that board diversity enhances firms’ ability to satisfy the needs of their broader groups of stakeholders.

The authors find that gender, tenure, and expertise diversities seem to be the driving factors of firms’ CSR activities. Furthermore, they find that board diversity significantly increases CSR performance by increasing CSR strengths and reducing CSR concerns for firms producing consumer-oriented products and firms operating in more competitive industries. These results remain robust using different measures of CSR performance, different estimation methods, and different samples.

Read further at: Maretno Harjoto, Indrarini Laksmana & Robert Lee. 2015. Board Diversity and Corporate Social Responsibility.
Journal of Business Ethics, 132(4), 641-660.

‘Green brides’ are more attractive in forming allliances?
There is theoretical and empirical evidence that firms’ environmental performance has ramifications for their appeal to various stakeholders. Yet, we know little about how this plays out in the context of strategic alliance formation. Stated differently, research is lacking on how ‘green’ prospective alliance partners are estimated by the initiating firm. This article employs strong environmental reputation as a proxy for high environmental performance and explores implications for the well-established alliance formation trust-based mechanism, under the strategic cognition perspective.

The ensuing hypotheses are subjected to empirical scrutiny through an experimental method. A random sample of 138 CEOs and top managers of Norwegian manufacturing firms completed a scenario-based questionnaire. The results show that two out of three trust dimensions are affected and, moreover, that two out of three—but not the same—trust dimensions influence partner attractiveness. Several theoretical and managerial implications, and future research opportunities, are derived from the findings.

For more details see: Anne Norheim-Hansen. 2015. Are ‘Green Brides’ More Attractive? An Empirical Examination of How Prospective Partners’ Environmental Reputation Affects the Trust-Based Mechanism in Alliance Formation.
Journal of Business Ethics, 132(4), 813-830.

Governance in multinational corporations via more integrative boards
Multinational corporations (MNCs) dominate the global business arena, but new expectations for MNC boards call to question how they might effectively manage global stakeholder relationships in this new era of accountability. Uniting political behaviour theory, which describes a board’s international political orientation, and global operating governance systems outlining a set of board behaviours, these authors develop a typology of four types of boards. They then provide recommendations for the development of an integrative governance structure, taking into account the mechanisms, structure, endorsements, and codes of conduct that MNCs can use to promote ethical behavior across MNC horizons.

Read further at: Cynthia Clark and Jill A. Brown. 2015. Multinational Corporations and Governance Effectiveness: Toward a More Integrative Board.
Journal of Business Ethics, 132(3), 565-577.