Agonistic Respect and the Ethics of Employment Relationships

Tricia D. Olsen, Harry J. Van Buren

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Relationships between stakeholders and businesses have the potential for conflict and cooperation. Such conflicts arise out of real differences in values and interests. This article explores the employment relationship as an emblematic case of business–stakeholder relations in which conflict is inevitable because employers and employees have interests that are at least partially conflicting, even while some degree of collaboration and shared interests underpins the existence of all employment relationships. We build on insights from the philosophy of agonism to develop the concept of agonistic business responsibility, which is a stakeholder management orientation that views conflict and contestation differently from the status quo, which we term antagonistic business irresponsibility. We discuss the broader implications of these ideas for stakeholder relations at the organizational level and the prospect of strengthened institutions at the societal level.

Original languageEnglish (US)
JournalJournal of Business Ethics
StateAccepted/In press - 2023

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2023, The Author(s), under exclusive licence to Springer Nature B.V.


  • Agonism
  • Employment relationship
  • Power


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