A fiduciary argument against stakeholder theory

Research output: Contribution to journalReview article

108 Scopus citations


Critics attack normative ethical stakeholder theory for failing to recognize the special moral status of shareholders that justifies the fiduciary duties owed to them at law by managers. Stakeholder theorists reply that there is nothing morally significant about shareholders that can underwrite those fiduciary duties. I advance an argument that seeks to demonstrate both the special moral status of shareholders in a firm and the concomitant moral inadequacy of stakeholder theory. I argue that (i) if some relations morally require fiduciary duties, and (ii) the shareholder-manager relation possesses the features that make fiduciary duties morally necessary to those relations, then (iii) stakeholder theory is morally lacking.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1-24
Number of pages24
JournalBusiness Ethics Quarterly
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2003


All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Economics and Econometrics
  • Business, Management and Accounting(all)

Cite this