The Voice of Business: the future of the business as seen from the top

29 Sep 2017

The British Academy has today published a collection of views from senior business leaders on the purpose of business, its role in society, and the challenges they face from disruptive change.

The Voice of Business captures the views of sixteen leaders of companies of different types and sizes in a range of sectors, including artificial intelligence, banking, construction, energy, media and retail. It was written by Lucy Parker, partner at Brunswick Group and member of the Academy’s Future of the Corporation Corporate Advisory Group.

The publication of the paper commences the British Academy’s newest programme, The Future of the Corporation - a major three-year research and engagement project which will explore the purpose of business and its role in society. This paper formed the basis of the initial research brief for the project, and ensures that research undertaken project incorporates the views of business leaders from the outset.

Professor Colin Mayer, Academic Lead, British Academy Future of the Corporation Programme said, “The Voice of Business serves as a powerful framing for the research of the Future of the Corporation programme. It describes how business sees itself as an engine for society but recognizes the serious decline in trust that has occurred in it. This report offers insights into the challenges of the business landscape as seen from the top. business is intrinsically connected to society and the communities it operates in – and they see disconnection as fatal to its success.”

Looking forwards, the business leaders raise key issues about the future of business, including trust and purpose, the nature of value and leadership, and engagement with government, regulation and society. 

They also give their perspectives on the challenges of disruptive change, driven by technologies which are redefining their markets, yet which also offer the opportunity to reframe societal expectations of business and their sustainability. 

Lucy Parker, author of the Voice of Business added: “As the Future of the Corporation programme unfolds our aspiration is to engage a wide range of stakeholders in fresh thinking about the future of corporations, including government, policy-makers, regulators, economic and social commentators, and business itself. We hope this paper will be thought-provoking for all those who engage in the academic studies and debates which form part of this effort.”

Launched yesterday, the Future of the Corporation is a major new £1.5m research and public engagement programme, part of the British Academy’s Challenge of Change series, which focus on understanding and addressing some of the biggest issues facing the world today. The programme runs for three years and includes a research programme, public policy and public engagement programme. For more information visit

Read the Voice of Business report here.



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