R. Edward Freeman headshot

Robert Freeman

Academic Director, Business Roundtable Institute for Corporate Ethics
Unit: Darden School of Business
Department: Darden Graduate School of Business
Office location and address
FOB 164
90 Darden Blvd
Charlottesville, Virginia 22903
B.A., Duke University
Ph.D., Washington University

R. Edward Freeman is University Professor and Olsson Professor of Business Administration; Academic Director of the Business Roundtable Institute for Corporate Ethics; and an Academic Director of the Institute for Business in Society at the Darden School, University of Virginia. He is also Adjunct Professor of Stakeholder Management at the Copenhagen Business School in Denmark, Visiting Professor at Nyenrode Business School (Netherlands), Adjunct Professor of Management at Monash University (Melbourne) and Visiting Professor at the International Center for Corporate Social Responsibility at Nottingham University. He has held honorary appointments as the Welling Professor at George Washington University and the Gourlay Professorship at University of Melbourne. Prior to coming to The Darden School Mr. Freeman taught at University of Minnesota and The Wharton School, University of Pennsylvania.

Freeman is the co-author of Stakeholder Theory: The State of the Art(Cambridge, 2010) andManaging for Stakeholders(Yale, 2007). He is the author or editor of over twenty volumes and one hundred articles in the areas of stakeholder management, business strategy and business ethics.   Freeman is perhaps best known for his award winning book:  Strategic Management:  A Stakeholder Approach  (Cambridge, 2010) , originally published in 1984, where he traced the origins of the stakeholder idea to a number of others and suggested that businesses build their strategy around their relationships with key stakeholders. He was the editor of the Ruffin Series in Business Ethics (15 volumes) published by Oxford. He is the co-editor with Mette Morsing and Jeremy Moon of the Cambridge Series: Business, Society and Value Creation (11 volumes).


Freeman has a Ph.D. in Philosophy from Washington University, and a B.A. in Mathematics and Philosophy from Duke University. He was recently awarded an honorary doctorates (DHC) in economics from Comillas University in Madrid, The Hanken School of Economics in Helsinki and an honorary doctorate in Management Science from Radboud University in Nijmegen, Netherlands for his work on stakeholder theory and business ethics. Throughout his career he has received a number of teaching awards from the Wharton School, The Carlson School, the Darden School, the University of Virginia, the State of Virginia and the Academy of Management. He has received Lifetime Achievement Awards fromthe World Resources Institute and Aspen Institute, the Humboldt University Conference on Corporate Social Responsibility and the Society for Business Ethics. He has worked with many executives and companies around the world.

Freeman is a lifelong student of philosophy, martial arts and the blues. He is a co-principal in Red Goat Records, LLC found at redgoatrecords.com.

GBUS 7380: Business Ethics (Part 1)
Credits: 2
The purpose of this course is to enable students to reason about the role of ethics in business administration in a complex, dynamic, global environment. Throughout the course, students will be encouraged to think deeply about the nature of business, the responsibilities of management, and how business and ethics can be put together. Cases without easy answers that raise a range of problems facing managers in the contemporary business environment will be used. Discussions will focus on developing a framework for analyzing the issues in moral terms and then making a decision and developing a set of reasons for why the decision was justified. Students will be pushed to think carefully about how they make decisions and develop their capacity to defend their decisions to other stakeholders. This is important as a way not only to foster integrity and responsible decision making, but also to push students to take leadership roles in dealing with complex and difficult choices they will face in their careers. Operating from a managerial perspective, students will address a range of themes in the class, including basic concepts in ethics, responsibilities to stakeholders and the building blocks of markets, corporate culture, the sources of ethical breakdowns in organizations, managerial integrity, value creation, and personal values and managerial choice.
LPPP 7993: Independent Study
Credits: 1–6
Student will perform independent projects under close faculty supervision.
GBUS 8018: Economic Inequality and Social Mobility
Credits: 2
The United States and many other countries face a trio of inequalities: income, wealth, and opportunity. While income inequality is a well-accepted result of a capitalist economy, the degree of inequality has been steadily increasing since 1979. Many including Nobel Prize winning economists Robert Schiller and Joseph Stiglitz state that economic inequality is the defining challenge of our time.
GBUS 8203: Business Ethics through Literature
Credits: 2
The purpose of this course is to deepen students' understanding of the role of ethics in management. The course builds on the conversations begun in the First Year Business Ethics course and addresses several key themes of interest for contemporary managers.
GBUS 8268: Leadership and innovation in Education
Credits: 2
This course is to serve as a capstone for the students in the MBA/MED program. In addition, it will be open to any student who is interested in the education space. The focus of the course will be theories and tools for leadership and innovation in K-12 education, and some applications to higher education. The course will deal with how to lead in a world of multiple and often conflicting stakeholders, and in a world where education of children is high.
GBUS 8274: Leadership When it Really Counts
Credits: 2
This course is based on a pioneering new approach-using pre-scripting and rehearsal-to prepare business managers/leaders for values-driven decision-making and action. Rather than simply talking about these difficult decisions and conversations, you will have the opportunity to practice them.
GBUS 8393: Societal Issues in Business
Credits: 2
This course explores the myriad social, economic and cultural problems that our society currently faces and asks what business can do about it. Education, climate change, emerging technology, healthcare and more. What is the unique role that business can play and how can individual business leaders fully realize both the uniqueness and full potential of that role?
GBUS 8489: Philosophy and Business: Business in Society
Credits: 2
The purpose of this course is to enable the students to develop a comprehensive "theory of business" that will guide their business careers and inform their leadership. Key sections of the course include: (1) A Philosophical Perspective on Business: What is Real and How Do We Know? (2) Capitalism and Business: Historical, Global, and Modern Perspectives; (3) Business and the Institutions of Society: The Role of Government, Media, NGOs.
GBUS 8500: Special Topics Seminar
Credits: 2–3
Each seminar is a course of study for students with special interests in business administration topics not currently included in the normal course offerings of the MBA Program. The seminar topics should be consistent with the objectives of the Second Year Program.
GBUS 8989: Critical and Creative Thinking in Business
Credits: 2
This course is to give the students a set of tools that will enable them to think both critically and creatively. In the FY core there are many courses that encourage critical and creative thinking, but there is a whole field of study that can enhance what the students have learned to do via the Socratic Method in the core. The course will draw on both business and non-business disciplines for its concepts and ideas.
GBUS 8999: Darden Independent Study
Credits: 2–3
A Darden Independent Study elective includes either case development or a research project to be conducted by an individual student under the direction of a faculty member. Students should secure the agreement of a resident faculty member to supervise their independent study and assign the final grade that is to be based to a significant degree on written evidence of the individual student's accomplishment.
GBUS 9854: Foundations of Management: Pragmatism and Stakeholder Theory
Credits: 3
The purpose of this seminar is to provide a critical introduction to scholarly reading and writing concentrating on one portion of the foundations of management theory; namely, pragmatism and stakeholder theory. While we will address some "classic" texts in management and ethics, you should understand that the syllabus is idiosyncratic to me, rather than systematic.
GBUS 9860: Reading Seminar: Moral Philosophy II
Credits: 3
This seminary will explore more contemporary philosophers such as Kar Marx, Adam Smith, and Amartya Sen. Prerequisites: Restricted to Darden Students
GBUS 9930: Pedagogy & Higher Administration
Credits: 3
Pedagogy and Higher Administration is a course for doctoral students about teaching technique and leading in institutions of higher education. The course addresses preparation before courses begin (e.g. developing syllabi), techniques and issues while class is in session (e.g. alternative teaching techniques), and things that occur after class (e.g. student grading and counseling).