“The UK has one of the most extreme forms of capitalism in the world and we urgently need to rethink the role of business in society. That’s according to Prof Colin Mayer, author of a new report on the future of the corporation for the British Academy.
Prof Mayer says that global crises such as the environment and growing inequality are forcing a reassessment of what business is for.
“The corporation has failed to deliver benefit beyond shareholders, to its stakeholders and its wider community,” he said.
“At the moment, how we conceptualise business is, it’s there to make money. But instead, we should think about it as an incredibly powerful tool for solving our problems in the world.”
He said the ownership structure of companies had made the UK one of the worst examples of responsible capitalism.
“The UK has a particularly extreme form of capitalism and ownership,” he said.
“Most ownership in the UK is in the hands of a large number of institutional investors, none of which have a significant controlling shareholding in our largest companies. That is quite unlike virtually any other country in the world, including the United States.”
This heavily dispersed form of ownership means none of the owners is providing a genuinely long-term perspective on how to achieve goals while also making money.”