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Robert A. Phillips

Robert A. Phillips
Schulich School of Business · Centre of Excellence in Responsible Business (COERB)

PhD University of Virginia

About

55
Publications
134,984
Reads
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5,692
Citations
Additional affiliations
August 2005 - present
Education
August 1994 - August 1997
University of Virginia
Field of study
  • Business Administration

Publications

Publications (55)
Article
Full-text available
Will stakeholder theory continue to transform how we think about business and society? On the occasion of this journal’s 60th anniversary, this review article examines the journal’s role in shaping stakeholder theory to date and suggests that it still has transformative potential. We conducted a bibliometric analysis of co-citations in the literatu...
Article
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Recent structural innovations in global commerce present difficult challenges for legacy understandings of responsibility. The rise of outsourcing, sub-contracting, and mobile app-based platforms have dramatically restructured relationships between and among economic actors. Though not entirely new, the remarkable rise in the prevalence of these “n...
Article
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We start this article with the exploration of similarities between the resource-based view of the firm (RBV) and stakeholder theory at the time of their origination and then proceed with the conversation on what led to distinct developmental trajectories of the two theories. Though RBV has become a leading paradigm in the strategic management field...
Article
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A mainstay of stakeholder management is the belief that firms create value when they invest more time, money, and attention to stakeholders than is necessary for the immediate transaction. This tendency to repeat interactions with the same set of stakeholders fosters what we call stakeholder friction. Stakeholder friction is a term for the collecti...
Article
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The Business Roundtable, a large group of top CEOs, recently issued a statement defining the purpose of the corporation in stakeholder terms, a direct and intended reversal from an earlier statement that defined the duty of directors as serving the interests of stockholders. In this editorial, we briefly describe the major twists and turns in the s...
Article
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An emerging body of research recognizes the importance of the past and history for corporate social responsibility (CSR) scholarship and practice. However, the meanings that scholars and practitioners can ascribe to the past and history differ fundamentally, posing challenges to the integration of history and CSR thinking. This essay reviews divers...
Article
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A number of tensions have been suggested between stakeholder theory and strategic management (SM). Following a brief review of the histories of stakeholder theory and mainstream SM, we argue that many of the tensions are more apparent than real, representing different narratives about stakeholder theory, SM, business, and ethics. Part of the differ...
Article
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Agency theory draws attention to certain behaviors of CEOs and boards that, in aggregate, create losses for society. An empirical literature characterized by contentious findings, however, suggests the current form of agency theory is not supporting a clear understanding of these behaviors and their costs. This paper proposes a change to one assump...
Article
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Corporations are increasingly held responsible for activities up and down their value chains but outside of their traditional corporate boundaries. Recently, there has been a similar wave of criticism arising from corporate activities from the past, overseen by prior generations of managers. Yet there is little or no scholarly theorizing about the...
Book
Honoring the twenty-fifth anniversary of R. Edward Freeman's Strategic Management: A Stakeholder Approach, one of the most influential books in the history of business strategy and ethics, this work assembles a collection of contributions from some of the most renowned and widely-cited scholars working in the area of stakeholder scholarship today.
Article
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As value chains become longer with increases in outsourcing and subcontracting, the challenges of fixing responsibility become more difficult. Using concepts from the literature on social networks, this paper considers issues of diffusion of responsibility and plausible deniability in such relationships. Specifically, this paper isolates three sour...
Article
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Building on prior research (Phillips et al. 2010), we make explicit the implied assumptions – both managerialist and determinist – in stakeholder research. We argue that three elements – managerial discretion, stakeholder orientation and nexus rent – interact in important and under-examined ways. A firm’s orientation toward its stakeholders determi...
Article
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A firm that manages for stakeholders allocates more resources to satisfy the needs and demands of its legitimate stakeholders than would be necessary to simply retain their willful participation in the firm’s productive activities. We explain why this sort of behavior unlocks additional potential for value creation, as well as the conditions that e...
Article
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This essay attempts to provide a useful research agenda for researchers in both strategic management and business ethics. We motivate this agenda by suggesting that the two fields started with similar interests, diverged, and are beginning to converge again. We then identify several streams that hold particular promise for developing our understand...
Article
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We begin by elaborating on the building blocks for understanding the dynamic interrelationships between stakeholder theory, managerial discretion and stakeholder orientation. We then provide a sketch of the dynamic between managerial discretion and stakeholder orientation and their likely interaction. We conclude by considering some future research...
Article
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The aim of this paper is to identify, review and assess two prominent recent trends in the literature on stakeholder engagement. Scholars in the first camp are referred to as Habermasians, owing to their reference and adherence to the work of the German philosopher most famous for elaborating on the concept of moral discourse. To these scholars, mo...
Article
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The private provision of security services has attracted a great deal of recent attention, both professional and popular. Much of that attention suggests the questioned moral legitimacy of the private vs. public provision of security. Linking the literature on moral legitimacy and responsibility from new institutional and stakeholder theories, we e...
Article
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The assumption that economic actors behave in a boundedly self-interested manner promises fruitful new insights for strategic management. A growing literature spanning multiple disciplines indicates most actors' selfish utility maximizing behaviors are bounded by norms of fairness. Rather than being purely self-interested, people behave reciprocall...
Article
This article discusses research into the reciprocity as an alternative to self-interest in developing research into management strategies and organizational behavior. This approach to human interaction, also called bounded rationality, assumes that the transaction costs increase when interactions with firms are unpleasant. At the same time, the aut...
Article
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In considering the similarities and differences among European and American perspectives on organizational ethics and corporate social responsibility (CSR), I am forced to the conclusion that the categories are far less useful than is often assumed. The similarities between - and diversity within - the proposed geographic categories match or exceed...
Article
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In this chapter, we compare and contrast the concepts of corporate citizenship and stakeholder theory.
Chapter
IntroductionPostmodernism and pragmatism as a response to the EnlightenmentThe postmodern response in organization studiesPostmodern and pragmatist organizational ethicsConclusion
Article
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The article presents a model of managerial stakeholder theory which addresses a conflict between managerialist and deterministic views by focusing on the issues of aggregate stakeholder performance, stakeholder orientation and managerial discretion. Various possible circumstances are categorized in terms of high or low managerial discretion and bro...
Article
Despite its influence on early development of the field, stakeholder theory is not widely used by strategic management scholars to explain competitive advantage. Using some of the central ideas of resource-based theory, we provide a fresh perspective on why firms that attend to the needs of a broad group of stakeholders may enjoy competitive advant...
Article
Accountability, it would seem, is something that everyone would like to see more of. Citizens would like to have a more accountable government; teachers and parents would like to have more accountable students and schools; and clearly, stakeholders and commentators appear to desire more accountable corporations. One of the leading organizations con...
Article
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Social contract theory offers a powerful method and metaphor for the study of organizational ethics. This paper considers the variant of the social contract that has arguably gained the most attention among business ethicists: integrative social contracts theory or ISCT [Donaldson and Dunfee: 1999, Ties That Bind (Harvard Business School Press, Bos...
Article
Despite its remarkable rise in popularity, stakeholder theory continues to be criticized for a dearth of empirical studies as well as ambiguity in the underlying theory. Several scholars have argued that resource dependence theory provides a useful lens through which to view firm-stakeholder relationships (Frooman 1999; Mitchell, Agle, & Wood 1997;...
Article
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This article discusses the evolving conception of responsibility within value chains from the perspective of stakeholder research. The recent managerial challenges to claims of arm's length transaction are examined following a brief discussion of stakeholder theory and a review of the related literature on supply chain ethics. Increased globalizati...
Article
Since Freeman's (1984) work on stakeholder theory, a number of scholars have suggested that resource dependence theory provides a useful lens through which to view firm-stakeholder relationships (Frooman, 1999; Mitchell, Agle, & Wood, 1997; Rowley, 1997). This paper tests the extent of this proposed linkage. We develop hypotheses based on Boyd's (1...
Article
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The term stakeholder is a powerful one. This is due, to a significant degree, to its conceptual breadth. The term means different things to different people and hence evokes praise or scorn from a wide variety of scholars and practitioners. Such breadth of interpretation, though one of stakeholder theory's greatest strengths, is also one of its mos...
Article
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This paper is a preliminary attempt to better understand the concept of legitimacy in stakeholder theory. The normative component of stakeholder theory plays a central role in the concept of legitimacy, therefore, though the elaboration of legitimacy contained herein applies generally to all "normative cores" this paper relies on Phillips' principl...
Article
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Social contracts have emerged as among the most powerful methods and metaphors for the study of organizational ethics. That participation with an organization entails obligations to follow the extant norms of that organization, subject to the moral minimums of basic human rights, is a widely accepted tenet. One potential challenge to this approach,...
Article
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There are explicit claims to Darwinian thinking in numerous fields of study. A common temptation associated with this method across disciplines is to call some attributes “natural” and others “cultural” in origin. But this distinction can be dangerous—particularly when applied to ethics. When employing the Darwinian method, ideas should be evaluate...
Article
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Quine once wrote that "sentences do not confront the tribunal of experience alone." And, he might have added, "nor do arguments and theories". Sentences, as well as arguments and theories, always import their background conditions and related theories with them. Context plays a crucial role in social phenomena, and sometimes we need to resist the e...
Article
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Stakeholder theory is often unable to distinguish those individuals and groups that are stakeholders from those that are not. This problem of stakeholder identity has recently been addressed by linking stakeholder theory to a Rawlsian principle of fairness. To illustrate, the question of stakeholder status for the non-human environment is discussed...
Article
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The organization is importantly different from both the nation-state and the individual and hence needs its own ethical models and theories, distinct from political and moral theory. To develop a case for organizational ethics, this paper advances arguments in three directions. First, it highlights the growing role of organizations and their distin...
Article
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This essay argues that the use of current events periodicals may be of great use in the management and business ethics classroom. The advantages include, but are not limited to, (1) the demonstration of the relevance of often highly theoretical class material, (2) an opportunity to apply theory and thus demonstrate understanding and internalization...
Article
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Stakeholder theory has become a central issue in the literature on business ethics/business and society. There are, however, a number of problems with stakeholder theory as currently understood. Among these are: 1) the lack of a coherent justificatory framework, 2) the problem of adjudicating between stakeholders, and 3) the problem of stakeholder...
Article
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This paper explores the ethical issues arising from the conversion to cash balance pension plans in medium and large U.S. corporations. The conventional critique of these controversial plans centers on fundamental questions of distributive justice and rests on arguments dating back to the formulation of U.S. pension law. Since that time, however, t...

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