A briefing was held on Tuesday 18 May 2016 by way of introduction to the topic of The Future of the Corporation.
There is strong consensus that businesses need to have a sense of purpose and clear understanding of their role in society, but what is meant by corporate purpose? Is it an important and distinct concept in promoting responsible business? How do companies define and operationalize corporate purposes, and how do they implement them in achieving socially as well as privately beneficial outcomes? How can businesses be more effective at articulating their purpose and the underlying contract between society and the corporation? How can businesses redefine what their purpose is to help contribute to the prosperity of everyone in society within a sustainable environment? Could the pursuit of the Sustainable Development Goals help define and shape corporate purpose in the future? What are stakeholder expectations of corporate purpose? Does corporate purpose affect recruitment and staff retention? How can businesses create and ensure they have effective and meaningful corporate purpose? Do businesses need a more philosophical approach to corporate purpose that can better chime with increasingly shared values within society?
To what extent has business historically been associated with a social purpose? How has the purpose of business changed over time? Were there periods during which business was regarded as making a particularly valuable contribution to society? What has contributed to the rise and decline of business organizations in different regions of the world? What, for example, were the factors contributing to the rise and subsequent decline of enterprise in the Middle East over several centuries and the relative decline of British business in relation to other industrialized countries over the past 150 years? How has business been depicted in contemporary literature over time and around the world? How have families that engage in business been regarded? What are the examples of highly regarded businesses in history and what can be learnt from them? Why has the corporation emerged in different places, at different times, and for different activities?