What is corporate purpose, and why does it matter for society?
|Professor Nien-hê Hsieh
Dr David Rodin
Dr Marco Meyer
|Harvard Business School
The research will provide a literature review of research on corporate purpose, focusing on literature in philosophy, business ethics, management studies, and organisational psychology. It will develop a concrete picture of how corporations conceive of and articulate their purpose. It will contrast stakeholder expectations of corporate purpose by conducting case studies of three large corporations, including perspectives of senior management, employees, customers, and civil society actors. From a theoretical perspective, the group seeks to unify the current theoretical and narrow approaches to corporate purpose. It will approach the social purpose of an organisation as an account of what makes the existence of the organisation desirable from the perspective of society. Additionally, it will address the practical dimensions of forging and pursuing a corporate purpose seriously by asking how companies define and operationalise corporate purpose, and how their efforts are received by employees, customers, and civil society actors. It aims to distil different approaches corporations take in this regard into a richly illustrated framework for analysing different elements of corporate purpose.