Abstract

To overcome stewardship theory’s liability of newness, we introduce a validated and reliable measure for stewardship. Using Dubin’s features of a theoretical model to position stewardship theory, we endeavour to take a structured approach in the Kuhn-characterised normal science stage of entrepreneurship. There is a danger that stewardship theory currently bears many of the hallmarks of a summative unit (in Dubin’s terms), where a summative unit is one that can be referred to as a global unit that stands for an entire complex phenomenon; conveys a great deal of meaning but is always diffuse; draws together a number of different properties of a thing and gives them a label that highlights one of the more important properties. In the Kuhnian normal science stage of the entrepreneurship field without a validated robust scale, stewardship will remain positioned as a summative unit with a limited role to play in theory building.

Stewardship theory defines relationships based upon behavioural premises not addressed by the manager-principal interest divergence canvassed in agency theory. In that way, a steward unlike an agent is not motivated by self-interest. His/her motives are allied with the objectives of the principals. Psychological and situational aspects differentiate principal-steward relationships from principal-agent relationships. Stewardship theory has had conceptual but limited empirical development.

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