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Deliberative Democracy and Corporate Governance by Aimee E. Barbeau
Jeffrey Moriarty argues for a return to a robust notion of stakeholder theory involving direct procedural voting by stakeholders. He asserts that such voting offers the best possible chance of restraining firm behavior and taking into account all stakeholder interests. I argue, however, that Moriarty proceeds with an overly narrow conception of democracy, ignoring problems that arise from procedural voting. Specifically, paradoxes in voting procedures, the tyranny of the majority, and the inefficacy of representation advantage well-organized and moneyed interests. A stakeholder democracy may in fact undermine the very interests that Moriarty seeks to promote.
One must also consider the possible complications obstructing the effectiveness of voluntary forms of engagement with stakeholders. Managers at the center of complex global supply chains cannot easily attend to the concerns of disparate groups of workers across nations. David Weil and Richard Locke have studied these production networks and have found that the titular enterprise exercises strict control over product quality to maintain brand integrity but tolerates the suppression of worker voice in the supply chain. Recent developments in codes of conduct still preserve a measure of opacity for the local producer. Add to this the impact of private equity firms demanding a reorientation of management attention from existing stakeholders
to new ventures. How do managers voluntarily reconcile these claims?