The research background to the final report of the Future of the Corporation programme on ‘Policy & Practice for Purposeful Business’

by Colin Mayer

26 Aug 2022
Journal of the British Academy
Digital Object Identifier
Number of pages
16 (pp. 1-15)

Abstract: This article introduces four research papers that were written for the final report of the British Academy Future of the Corporation programme. It focuses on three areas – corporate law, measurement, and finance. The overarching concept that the programme has developed is of corporate purpose being about creating profitable solutions to problems of people and planet, not profiting from producing problems for either. Adoption and implementation of this requires corporate law to reflect the extension of the boundaries of the firm beyond their conventional ones of property ownership and contractual claims to include the impact that the firm has on others. That should be incorporated in measurement systems that determine the success and profit of a company and in particular account for the costs of rectifying and remedying detriments that it inflicts on others. The purpose of financial systems and institutions in this context is to ensure that the necessary financial resources and forms of investor engagement are available to allow firms to deliver on their purposes. Finally, several cases studies illustrate the extent to which companies are implementing meaningful purposes and the challenges they face in doing so.

Keywords: Corporate purpose, law, measurement, finance.

Article posted to Journal of the British Academy, volume 10, supplementary issue 5 (Foundations of the Future of the Corporation programme report ‘Policy & Practice for Purposeful Business’).

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