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Future of the Corporation

A major research 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 most recent report, “Reforming Business for the 21st Century”.  The conclusions demonstrate a view of how business should adapt and respond to the challenges and opportunities it faces and suggest a need to develop a new framework for the corporation around three interconnected principles: well-defined purposes, a commitment to trustworthiness and an enabling culture.

Over the course of 2019, we have developed a set of proposals that set out how purposeful business can be through changes to business practice, public policy and business teaching.  This expanded framework covers four themes:

  • Law
  • Ownership and governance
  • Measurement
  • Finance

We have held extensive deliberations involving a wide range of practitioners and academics to revise and refine the framework.  This process is nearing completion and we will be pushing our findings in November 2019. 

In 2020, following the publication of this expanded framework we will be reaching out among our network to embed the findings in public policy, business practice and business teaching.

The programme engages with a range of business, government, policy, civil society and academic stakeholders to examine these issues and questions in full.  If you would like to know more about the programme or become involved in events, roundtables or research, please get in touch with Henry Richards (Project Manager) on, or register your interest in our newsletter

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


Partners and supporters


Programme leadership

Steering Group

Corporate Advisory Group

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


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