Journal of Business Ethics

, Volume 154, Issue 1, pp 13–33 | Cite as

People and Profits: The Impact of Corporate Objectives on Employees’ Need Satisfaction at Work

  • Bidhan L. ParmarEmail author
  • Adrian Keevil
  • Andrew C. Wicks
Original Paper


For decades, scholars have debated the corporate objective. Scholars have either advocated a corporate objective focused on generating value for shareholders or creating value for multiple groups of stakeholders. Although it has been established that the corporate objective can shape many aspects of the corporation—including culture, compensation, and decision making—to date, scholars have not yet explored its psychological impact; particularly, how the corporate objective might influence employee well-being. In this article, we explore how two views of the corporate objective affect employee self-determination, a key component of overall psychological need satisfaction and well-being. We hypothesize that a corporate objective based on creating value for multiple stakeholders will increase employee psychological need satisfaction as compared to one focused on creating value for only shareholders. Across four experimental studies and one field survey, we find consistent support for our hypotheses and test three facets of a stakeholder-focused corporate objective. Theoretical implications and future research directions are discussed.


Self-determination theory Stakeholder theory Corporate objective Business ethics 



This study was funded by the Darden School of Business Administration; no grants were given.

Compliance with ethical standards

Conflict of interest

Bidhan Parmar declares that he has no conflict of interest. Adrian Keevil declares that he has no conflict of interest. Andrew C. Wicks declares that he has no conflict of interest.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  • Bidhan L. Parmar
    • 1
    Email author
  • Adrian Keevil
    • 1
  • Andrew C. Wicks
    • 1
  1. 1.The Darden School of BusinessUniversity of VirginiaCharlottesvilleUSA

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