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Future of the Corporation Phase 1 Research Overview

Future of the Corporation Phase 1 Research Overview

The Future of the Corporation is a major research and public engagement programme aiming to develop an evidence base that will serve as a foundation to redefine business for the 21st century and build trust between business and society. The first phase of research is considering ten themes which will shape the future of business. This phase is gathering existing evidence, developing fresh thinking and identifying gaps in research. The findings will provide a distinctive insight into the current state of thinking - from both academics and business leaders - about the ways the corporation will evolve in the future. In the second phase of research starting in 2019, the project will gather new empirical evidence, test new approaches and work with stakeholders to understand the best ways of applying these changes.

The Research Programme

The Future of the Corporation has drawn together top academics from across the world in all the relevant disciplines of the humanities and social sciences to address how the corporation needs to be adapted to make it fit for the 21st century. Over the past few years we have seen growing concern about how the corporate sector operates and the British Academy will address these issues through a two-phase research programme. The first phase of research started in January 2018 and the findings will be published in Autumn 2018.  The second phase of research will start in January 2019. 

Programme Aims

Core aims of the commissioned research are:

  • To be a proactive partner in the movement for engaging a wide range of business leaders around the world to bring about positive change.
  • To shape and guide policy through evidence based-policy recommendations for the UK and worldwide that will enable governments to support purposeful businesses.
  • To influence business practice through recommendations for change that achieve profitable, sustainable outcomes.
  • To influence how business is taught and researched in business schools and universities around the world.

Phase 1: a landscape review bringing fresh thinking and a clearer picture

For the first phase of research, we have commissioned 10 separate research projects through a range of leading academics that will provide a landscape review of the main issues in each of the areas and alternative approaches that can be taken to address them. The review will propose an agenda for more substantial in-depth research projects in the second phase of research. All aspects of business from large-scale global corporates to social enterprises and family-owned businesses across the world are being studied and analysed.

This programme is particularly distinctive for two reasons.  First the breadth of topics and academic disciplines researchers engaged.  This breadth is vital to answer questions which are not simply questions of economics and management, but extend across the humanities and social sciences.  Taking this broad view will give some of the answers to the relationships between business and society.  Secondly, the British Academy has a unique ability to bring together senior business leaders, top academics and influential institutions and policy-makers.  The project has been convening regular briefings and has brought together a high level Corporate Advisory Group to provide a sounding board for the research programme to ground it in real business and social concerns. 

Overview: Themes, Researchers and Institutions

Click on the links below to find out more about each research theme.

Theme Research Question Lead Researcher(s) Institution
History What does history tell us about the role of the corporation in society? Dr Christopher McKenna
Dr Rowena Olegario
Leonardo Davoudi
Said Business School
Oxford University
Corporate Purpose What is corporate purpose, and why does it matter for society? Professor Nien-hê Hsieh
Dr David Rodin
Dr Marco Meyer
Harvard Business School
Oxford / European University Institute
York University
Trust What is trust and trustworthiness in business? Professor David Vines
Professor Natalie Gold
Dr Aisling Crean
Anne Williamson
Oxford University
King’s College London
Glasgow University
Oxford University
Professor Nikolas Kirby
Professor Jonathan Wolff
Professor Karthik Ramanna
Blavatnik School of Government
Corporate Culture What is corporate culture and how can businesses instil a strong sense of values in their organizations?  What role does leadership have to play in this? Professor Nien-hê Hsieh
Dr David Rodin
Dr Marco Meyer
Harvard Business School
Oxford / European University Institute
York University
Corporate Governance How can businesses make corporate governance fit for purpose? Professor Jeffrey Gordon Columbia University
Technology How should businesses adapt to changing technology and scientific opportunities and how will these affect the future of the corporation? Professor Julian Birkinshaw London Business School
Professor Yishay Yafeh
Professor Sharon Belenzon
Professor Assaf Hamdani
Professor Niron Hashai
Professor Eugene Kandel
Hebrew University, CEPR and ECGI
Duke University and NBER
Tel Aviv University and ECGI
Hebrew University and IDC
Hebrew University, SNC, CEPR and ECGI
Corporate Law, Regulation and Taxation How can we modernise corporate law, regulation, and taxation to adapt to a changing global landscape, and what role do governments play in this? Professor Mihir Desai
Professor Dhammika Dharmapala
Harvard Law School
University of Chicago Law School
Professor John Armour
Professor Luca Enriques
Professor Ariel Ezrachi
Professor John Vella
Oxford University Law Faculty
Long-term Investment How can businesses promote long term investment? What can corporations do to harness and promote research and development? Professor Avner Offer Oxford University
Ownership What impact does ownership have on building sustainable and responsible businesses? Professor Belén Villalonga NYU Stern School of Business
Social Benefit How can business promote benefits for society? Professor Peter Buckley Centre for International Business University of Leeds


For further information please contact the Project Manager on