The Ubuntu Challenge to Business: From Stakeholders to Relationholders

Journal of Business Ethics 157 (1):27-44 (2019)
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This paper addresses whether, and to what extent, the African ethic of Ubuntu can contribute to ethical thinking in general and provide an alternative to stakeholder theory specifically. The conception of Ubuntu that is employed to further the analysis is Thaddeus Metz’s Ubuntu principle of right action, which focuses on promoting harmonious social relations premised on a shared identity and solidarity amongst people. This principle is used to develop an Ubuntu heuristic for organisational decision-making, which serves as the basis for a relationholder theory. It is argued that this relationholder theory can overcome the weaknesses identified with a libertarian account of stakeholder theory, as well as serve as a profitable framework for determining both the purpose of the firm, and the responsibilities that management has towards those parties who affect, and who are affected by, the firm.



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Minka Woermann
University of Stellenbosch

References found in this work

Trust and antitrust.Annette Baier - 1986 - Ethics 96 (2):231-260.
Toward an african moral theory.Thaddeus Metz - 2007 - Journal of Political Philosophy 15 (3):321–341.
The Politics of Stakeholder Theory.R. Edward Freeman - 1994 - Business Ethics Quarterly 4 (4):409-421.
A stakeholder theory of the modern corporation.R. Edward Freeman - 2001 - Perspectives in Business Ethics Sie 3:144.

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