Particularizing Nonhuman Nature in Stakeholder Theory: The Recognition Approach

Journal of Business Ethics 185 (1):17-31 (2022)
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Stakeholder theory has grown into one of the most frequent approaches to organizational sustainability. Stakeholder research has provided considerable insight on organization–nature relations, and advanced approaches that consider the intrinsic value of nonhuman nature. However, nonhuman nature is typically approached as an ambiguous, unified entity. Taking nonhumans adequately into account requires greater detail for both grounding the status of nonhumans and particularizing nonhuman entities as a set of potential organizational stakeholders with different characteristics, vulnerabilities, and needs. We utilize the philosophical concept of ‘recognition’ to provide a normative underpinning for stakeholder theorizing on nonhuman nature in both universal and difference-sensitive terms. We discuss how the status model of recognition helps identify relevant nonhumans as organizational stakeholders, establish respect, and particularize nonhumans in their distinctiveness and in partner-like ways. The implications of the recognition approach for stakeholder research are explicated with an illustrative case that exemplifies the recognition and particularization of nonhuman nature. We contribute to stakeholder research on nonhuman nature by suggesting that recognition provides a conceptual tool for theorizing the stakeholder status and particularization of nonhuman nature. Thereby, this article reduces anthropocentric bias and increases the capacity of stakeholder theorizing to confront the challenges of the ecological crisis.



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Teea Kortetmäki
University of Jyväskylä

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