Stakeholderism and the lack of “good” work


Questions for Freeman before watching Stakeholder Theory

  • Do you think the media typically has a negative impact on how the public views companies?
  • How do you think the Internet and social networking sites changed the way companies operate both internally and externally?
  • If Milton Friedman were alive today, what would you want to say to him?

Ed Freeman’s Stakeholder Theory slightly touches upon each of my questions. In terms of the media, Freeman says people are less likely to trust the media than they are to trust the government. In my opinion, he must be referring to business savvy stakeholders who know what they are looking for when they consider the media. In my mind, the media has a huge effect on how people perceive certain companies that happen to have particularly positive or negative press. Likewise, Freeman touches upon the fact that the Internet and social media sites are not stakeholders in themselves. This is because these are not factors that are constantly affecting how the business operates. Freeman did not answer these questions to the extent that I would have liked, but this is because his talk was more general, while my questions are based off of recent discussions we’ve had in class. Lastly, I wanted to know how Freeman reacts to Friedman’s ideas. He actually does mention this in his talk by saying, “if Milton Friedman were alive today, he’d probably be a stakeholder theorist”. This stuck out to me because in class we have compared them as if they are two opposite ends of a spectrum. However, Freeman wants us to stop looking at them as two separate entities, and rather explore how much one affects the other. He suggests that Freeman would see and take on his side, that you can’t have shareholderism without taking care of the stakeholders first.

This video was definitely helpful in furthering my understanding of stakeholderism because he used real world examples, which made his ideas come to life. I wish I was able to see him speak in person, but this video did the trick for making me see more into his point of view.

Why Work Doesn’t Happen at the Workplace – Jason Fried

I love Jason Fried’s dynamic talking about how unproductive the workplace has become. It’s true; my mom is constantly complaining that she never gets work done when she’s at work, and then has a ton of work to do from home. Why has this become the norm at many companies across industries? Fried suggests that it’s because our own managers and bosses don’t give us the peace and time that we need to get our jobs done. The workplace has become a cycle of meetings, interruptions, and small amounts of progress. Managers have become so caught up with making sure everyone is doing what they are supposed to be doing, that they are actually having the opposite effect on the productivity of their employees.

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Fried talks about the lack of necessity that meetings actually have. They are actually more unproductive than anything else because they are what really distract people and keep them from working. He suggests that the only way real work can be done is if people are left to manage their time how they please; taking 15 minutes to look at Facebook is not going to keep someone from doing their job, but stopping every 30-45 minutes absolutely will.

This talk directly applies to stakeholder theory; when employees aren’t productive and no work is getting done, than how can a company be successful? Fried’s ideas of leaving employees to work at their own discretion would enhance Freeman’s stakeholder theory because it’s just divulging deeper into what makes modern employees work hard for the benefit of the company. Stakeholder theory says that it’s in the best interest of the managers to always be on top of what employees’ needs are. This usually translates to having many unnecessary meetings and restrictions on how many breaks are allowed. Instead, managers should be in favor of trusting their employees to do what they need to do, which will benefit the company in the long run.

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