Reinventing the corporation

by Colin Mayer

04 Apr 2016
10.5871/jba/004.053

Full text posted to Journal of the British Academy, volume 4, pp. 53-72.


Abstract: The corporation has undergone a fundamental change over the last few decades from an organisation with predominantly tangible assets, such as buildings and equipment, to the ‘mindful corporation’ with intangible assets, such as brands, patents and reputations. While the corporation has made immense contributions to economic prosperity and development, it is also associated with growing levels of income and social inequality. To correct its deficiencies and restore trust, it needs to be reinvented for the 21st century. It should be reconceived as a means of commitment to the promotion of the interests of its customers and communities as well as enhancing the wealth of its investors. This requires a careful reconsideration of the purpose of the corporation and its associated forms of ownership and governance. The humanities have a vital role to play in achieving this.


Keywords: the corporation, intangible, commitment, trust, purpose, ownership, governance.


Sir John Cass’s Foundation Lecture, read 3 March 2015 (video recording)


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