The Purpose of the Corporation

Hosted by the Department of Management

LSE Centre Building, Houghton Street, London WC2A 2AE, United Kingdom


Professor Alex Edmans

Professor Alex Edmans

Will Hutton

Will Hutton

Professor David Kershaw

Professor David Kershaw

Sir Geoffrey Owen

Sir Geoffrey Owen

Adrian Wooldridge


Dr Susan Liautaud

Dr Susan Liautaud


Professor Alexander Pepper

Love it or loathe it, Milton Friedman’s famous theory on shareholder primacy has been the dominant view for the past 50 years.

But for how much longer?

The British Academy’s Future of the Corporation programme examined the role of business in society and concluded that businesses should be “producing profitable solutions from the problems of people and planet, and not profiting from creating problems.” But such statements are not without their critics. Stefan Stern of the Financial Times has written about “the boardroom’s futile pursuit of purpose” and Jerry Davis, Professor of Business Administration at the University of Michigan Ross School of Business has argued “purpose cannot solve the problem of shareholder primacy because shareholder capitalism is inherently corrupting of purpose”.

Join our community of business leaders and thinkers for a day of ideas and conversation at the LSE as we explore all sides of the question: “What is the purpose of the corporation?”

Meet our speakers and chair

Alex Edmans (@aedmans) is Professor of Finance at London Business School. Alex’s book, “Grow the Pie: How Great Companies Deliver Both Purpose and Profit”, was featured in the Financial Times' Best Business Books list for 2020.

Will Hutton (@williamnhutton) is a political economist, writer for The Observer and co-chair of The Purposeful Company steering group. 

Professor David Kershaw is Dean of LSE Law School. His research interests include the legal ecology of the purposeful company.

Dr Susan Liautaud (@susanliautaud) is the founder and managing director of Susan Liautaud & Associates Limited, Chair of LSE Council and Vice Chair at Global Partnership for Education.

Sir Geoffrey Owen is Head of Industrial Policy at Policy Exchange and former editor of the Financial Times.  

Edmund Schuster (@Edmund_Schuster) is Associate Professor of corporate law at LSE.

Adrian Wooldridge (@adwooldridge) is author, columnist at Bloomberg Opinion and former political editor of The Economist.

More about the event

This is a free thought leadership event hosted by LSE’s Department of Management (@LSEManagement) and delivered in partnership with the 2022 edition of Estoril Conferences (@EstorilConf), Nova School of Business and Economics (@NovaSBE) and the CEMS Global Alliance in Management Education (@cems_alliance).

The programme also includes a unique performance delivered by RADA Business (@RADA_London) and an open debate offering you the opportunity to have your say.

Refreshments will be served throughout the day and lunch will be provided.

Twitter Hashtag for this event: #LSEPurpose

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