NGOs are increasingly recognized as factual stakeholders of companies. Stakeholder Theory deals with the question whether NGOs are legitimate stakeholders of corporations. This paper argues that NGOs can only be considered legitimate stakeholders of companies if they are legitimate representatives of civil society. It is based on the assumption that NGOs act as organizations with normative claims. The aim is to outline to what normative framework NGOs as organizations with normative claims are geared. This is done by outlining the central terms of the research question and by investigating which political model provides the most adequate interpretations of these notions. It will be that the deliberative model of democracy represents the most fruitful approach to the research question at hand.
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Institute for Business Ethics, University of St. Gallen