The Future of the Corporation is a major initiative by the British Academy to investigate how economic, social and technological factors are shaping and changing the nature of business and how business needs to respond to these opportunities and challenges.
A wide range of academic institutions are embarking on research papers to consider this subject from different angles. This paper aims to be a contribution to that effort, incorporating the voice of leaders of business in the project from the outset. It captures the views of sixteen leaders in business, drawn from in-depth interviews covering the broad topic areas of the project as a whole. Most specifically, the paper covers:
- How they see the role of business as an engine in society.
- The key issues they raise about the future of the corporation, including their perspective on trust and purpose, on the nature of values and leadership, on engagement with government, regulation and civil society – as well as the tension between short-term results and long-term strategy, and the development of sustainable business models.
- Their perspectives on the challenge of disruptive change, driven by technologies which are fundamentally redefining their markets, and may also offer the opportunity to reframe societal expectations of business
While these are not new areas for consideration, the intention here is to understand the perspectives of people who experience these questions in action. As the research which will make up the Future of the Corporation gets underway, the intention is to ensure that that work is set in the context of how business leaders see the role of business in the world, and the pressures and opportunities that presents.
As the Future of the Corporation programme unfolds our aspiration is to engage a wide range of stakeholders in fresh thinking about the future of corporations, including government, policy-makers, regulators, economic and social commentators, and business itself.
We hope this paper will be thought-provoking for all those who engage in the academic studies and debates which form part of this effort.