Martin Wright reports on an ambitious British Academy initiative to restore trust in capitalism by redrawing the contract between business, investors and society
The world’s mighty companies are facing challenges as never before: a breakdown of trust with consumers; growing public scrutiny via the lidless eye of social media; populist politicians on left and right threatening to upset the corporate applecart; and, running through it all, the waves of disruption brought about by AI, automation and the so-called fourth industrial revolution (see First, do no harm: regulators and tech industry scramble to tame the AI tiger). All this at a time when business is increasingly expected not just to turn a profit for all its shareholders, but to "do the right thing" by wider society and the environment into the bargain.
So, amid all this turbulence, how can companies best respond? What can and should be the role of government, investors and civil society? How, in short, do we make corporates fit for the future?
Colin Mayer of Oxford University - exploring the purposes of business. (Credit: Purpose Economy)
Those questions are at the heart of The Future of the Corporation, a major new initiative led by the British Academy, a fellowship of around 1,400 leading academics from the humanities and social sciences. Led...