By Dave Hendrick

University of Virginia Darden School of Business Professor R. Edward Freeman has received an honorary doctorate from Germany’s Leuphana University of Luneberg.

The award, presented 3 July by the University’s faculty of sustainability, honored Freeman for developing the foundations for stakeholder theory, which the University described in a news release as a theory that became “the basic model of modern economic and social research.”

Stakeholder theory, first detailed by Freeman in his 1984 Strategic Management: A Stakeholder Approach, holds that good management practices consider relationships with a range of stakeholders, including employees, customers, suppliers and communities.

Often presented in contrast to a shareholder-centric view of a corporation, Freeman’s work has proved enormously influential in academia and the business world, helping to carve out a widening space where economic value and social value are seen to go hand-in-hand.

In 2018, Freeman received a lifetime achievement award from the Academy of Management and an Ideas Worth Teaching Award from the Aspen Institute Business and Society Program for the course “Economic Inequality and Social Mobility.”

“With his research and his comment to business practice, R. Edward Freeman has shown ways to explicitly integrate ethical aspects into the strategic management of organizations,” the University wrote in honoring Freeman. “Stakeholder theory argues that separating ethics from management is neither possible, nor conducive to successful management.”

In addition to holding the title of University Professor, a distinction awarded to a small number of UVA professors of international renown, Freeman serves as academic director of Darden’s Institute for Business in Society and is a senior fellow at the Olsson Center For Applied Ethics, among other roles and responsibilities.

About the University of Virginia Darden School of Business

The University of Virginia Darden School of Business delivers the world’s best business education experience to prepare entrepreneurial, global and responsible leaders through its MBA, Ph.D., MSBA and Executive Education programs. Darden’s top-ranked faculty is renowned for teaching excellence and advances practical business knowledge through research. Darden was established in 1955 at the University of Virginia, a top public university founded by Thomas Jefferson in 1819 in Charlottesville, Virginia.