Conscious Capitalism, Inc., an organization founded on the concept that the innate potential of business is to create value and have a positive impact on the world, recently named Institute for Business in Society Academic Director and University Professor R. Edward Freeman as a ‘Hero of Conscious Capitalism.’

Referring to Freeman as “the nation’s foremost scholar on stakeholder theory and business ethics” and “one of the giants of conscious capitalism and one of the founders of the field,” the organization acknowledged Freeman and other thought leaders whose work embodies the tenets of Conscious Capitalism, including:

  • Driving a higher purpose in their organizations to serve, align, and integrate the interests of all their company’s major stakeholders.
  • Recognizing and supporting the interdependencies that exist across all stakeholders, allowing them to discover and harvest synergies from situations that otherwise seem replete with trade-offs.
  • Endeavoring to create financial, intellectual, social, cultural, emotional, spiritual, physical and ecological wealth for all their stakeholders.
  • Working to create trusting, authentic, innovative and caring company cultures that make working there a source of both personal growth and professional fulfillment.

Freeman is perhaps best known for his award-winning book, Strategic Management: A Stakeholder Approach, originally published in 1984 and reprinted in 2010 by Cambridge University Press. In this seminal work, he suggests thatbusinesses build their strategy around their relationships with key stakeholders. Freeman is al
so the author or editor of several other books, approximately 200 articles and more than 25 volumes in the fields of stakeholder management, ethics and leadership.

Having joined the Darden School in 1987, Freeman is the Elis and Signe Olsson Professor of Business Administration. He is also a professor of religious studies and a faculty adviser to UVA’s Institute for Practical Ethics. In March 2010, the Board of Visitors of the University of Virginia named Freeman as a University Professor, the first faculty member in Darden’s history to receive this rare honor.

Freeman received the 2014 Lifetime Achievement Award during the Sixth International Conference on Corporate Sustainability and Responsibility (CSR) at Humboldt University in Berlin, Germany. He has also been bestowed with honorary doctorate degrees (Doctor Honoris Causa) from the University of Sherbrooke in Canada in 2016, Hanken School of Economics in Finland in 2014, Radbord University in the Netherlands in 2013, and Universidad Pontificia Comillas in Spain in 2008 for his work on stakeholder theory and business ethics.

He has also received many teaching awards, including the Outstanding Faculty Award by the Darden student body in 1993, the 2001 Pioneer Award for Lifetime Achievement by the World Resources Institute and the Aspen Institute, and the 2005 Outstanding Faculty Award from the Virginia State Council on Higher Education.

Freeman is an academic director of the Darden School Institute for Business in Society and Business Roundtable Institute for Corporate Ethics and a senior fellow at the Olsson Center for Applied Ethics, where he continues his work on conscious capitalism.

Read more about Freeman’s recent work and thought leadership from his lecture as the Verizon Visiting Professor in Business Ethics at Bentley University’s W. Michael Hoffman Center for Business Ethics entitled, The New Story of Business: Towards a More Responsible Capitalism.

This is the first of three blogs on Ed Freeman and The New Story of Business. Please check back for future posts on this topic.