Stakeholder Theory and Narrative: Writing to Better Business Decisions

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Issues in Business Ethics


Business executives can be better at their jobs and become stronger, more ethical leaders by engaging with the craft of narrative. In particular, I will argue that using a practice-based narrative approach to consider point-of-view can give business leaders key insights that will prove significant in navigating stakeholder interests, as outlined in R Edward Freeman’s work on stakeholder theory. This chapter will begin by establishing key terms and concepts regarding stakeholder theory, before discussing parallels between narrative and business, and how they pertain to concepts of empathy, something critical to both fields. Then, I will advocate writing multiple point-of-view narratives as an empathetic strategy for navigating multiple stakeholder interests, paying particular attention to craft and discussing my own novel What the Ground Can’t Hold, told across five points-of-view. Through this analysis, I will pay attention to how understanding and enacting narrative craft inspired a deeper, more-empathetic engagement with contrasting points-of-view and highlight how this might be relevant to stakeholder theory. Then I will use a real-world example from the University of Wollongong to consider what this process might look in in practice.



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