Skip Content

Future of the Corporation

A major research and engagement programme examining the purpose of business and its role in society, led by Professor Colin Mayer FBA, Professor of Management at the Saїd Business School.

About the programme

The Future of the Corporation is a major research and public engagement programme aiming to contribute to a paradigm shift that redefines business for the 21st century and builds trust between business and society. 

In 2018, the programme published research findings from 32 academics based around the world in the Journal of the British Academy.  Their findings were synthesised in the first major report from the programme, 'Reforming Business for the 21st Century'.This report concluded that a shift is needed away from the dominant notion that business should be primarily focused on maximising returns to shareholders.  Instead, it highlighted the need for businesses operating with purpose, trustworthiness and enabling cultures. 

Building on this research in 2019, the programme has built on this framework with a set of principles to guide policymakers and business leaders to bring about trustworthy purposeful business.  The principles were developed and extensively reviewed between February and November 2019. The process involved four evidence generation and synthesis components: convening of a Deliberation Group; commissioning of evidence syntheses; generating new ideas and insight through a series of deliberative roundtables; and a final analysis to generate the principles and proposals.

The eight principles cover law, regulation, ownership, governance, measurement, performance, financing and investment.  They are published in our 2019 report, 'Principles for Purposeful Business'.  They place purpose at the heart of business and provide a clear and coherent guide for policies and business practices to be re-defined around purpose, encouraging trustworthiness and values-based business cultures. 

In 2020, following the publication of the principles, the programme will convene a series of summits that highlight the need for purposeful business in solving some of the major social and environmental challenges facing society, including climate change, inequality, declining trust and technological disruption. 

Further details will be released over the course of the year on these pages and through our mailing list.  If you would like to know more about the programme or become more involved, please email the team on fotc@thebritishacademy.ac.uk.

More information about the programme, its leadership, upcoming events and our partners and advisers can be found below:

Research (including the latest 2019 working papers)

Partners and supporters

Programme leadership

Steering Group

Corporate Advisory Group

Events

Future Plans

Principal supporters

The programme is funded by a range of foundations and corporate partners.  We are particularly grateful to our Principal Supporters - the Society for the Advancement of Management Studies and the Amersi Foundation

Future of the Corporation Principal Supporters

Publications

Principles for Purposeful Business

The British Academy, 2019

The Future of the Corporation is one of the most important and pressing topics of our time. This report is not just for business leaders, shareholders and policymakers. It is also for people who work for businesses, buy their products, benefit from a pension or feel an impact from business activities. And facing a climate crisis, this report is crucial for the world at large.

Principles for Purposeful Business - Executive Summary

The British Academy, 2019

The Future of the Corporation is one of the most important and pressing topics of our time. This report is not just for business leaders, shareholders and policymakers. It is also for people who work for businesses, buy their products, benefit from a pension or feel an impact from business activities. And facing a climate crisis, this report is crucial for the world at large.

Future of the Corporation Research Summaries

2018 The British Academy

A summary of research papers that have been commissioned by the Future of the Corporation programme to conduct research into the ten themes identified as critical to the future relationship between business and society

The Voice of Business

2017 The British Academy

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 future of the corporation: Towards humane business

The British Academy

Findings from the first phase of the British Academy’s ‘Future of the Corporation’ research programme, edited by Colin Mayer, posted to Journal of the British Academy, volume 6, supplementary issue 1, in 2018