Agonistic Pluralism and Stakeholder Engagement

Business Ethics Quarterly 25 (1):1-28 (2015)
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ABSTRACT:This paper argues that, although stakeholder engagement occurs within the context of power, neither market-centered CSR nor the deliberative model of political CSR adequately addresses the specter of power asymmetries and the inevitability of conflict in stakeholder relations, particularly for powerless stakeholders. Noting that the objective of stakeholder engagement should not be benevolence toward stakeholders, but mechanisms that address power asymmetries such that stakeholders are able to protect their own interests, I present a framework of stakeholder engagement based on agonistic pluralism that seeks to structure and utilize discord rather than reduce or eliminate it. I then propose arbitration as an agonistic mechanism to address power asymmetries in stakeholder engagement and explore its implications.



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Cedric Dawkins
Dalhousie University