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Prosperity: Better Business Makes the Greater Good

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What is business for? Day one of a business course will tell you: it is to maximise shareholder profit. This single idea pervades all our thinking and teaching about business around the world but it is fundamentally wrong, Colin Mayer argues. It has had disastrous and damaging consequences for our economies, environment, politics, and societies. In this urgent call for ref What is business for? Day one of a business course will tell you: it is to maximise shareholder profit. This single idea pervades all our thinking and teaching about business around the world but it is fundamentally wrong, Colin Mayer argues. It has had disastrous and damaging consequences for our economies, environment, politics, and societies. In this urgent call for reform, Prosperity challenges the fundamentals of business thinking. It sets out a comprehensive new agenda for establishing the corporation as a unique and powerful force for promoting economic and social wellbeing in its fullest sense - for customers and communities, today and in the future. First Professor and former Dean of the S�id Business School in Oxford, Mayer is a leading figure in the global discussion about the purpose and role of the corporation. In Prosperity, he presents a radical and carefully considered prescription for corporations, their ownership, governance, finance, and regulation. Drawing together insights from business, law, economics, science, philosophy, and history, he shows how the corporation can realize its full potential to contribute to economic and social wellbeing of the many, not just the few. Prosperity tells us not only how to create and run successful businesses but also how policy can get us there and fix our broken system.


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What is business for? Day one of a business course will tell you: it is to maximise shareholder profit. This single idea pervades all our thinking and teaching about business around the world but it is fundamentally wrong, Colin Mayer argues. It has had disastrous and damaging consequences for our economies, environment, politics, and societies. In this urgent call for ref What is business for? Day one of a business course will tell you: it is to maximise shareholder profit. This single idea pervades all our thinking and teaching about business around the world but it is fundamentally wrong, Colin Mayer argues. It has had disastrous and damaging consequences for our economies, environment, politics, and societies. In this urgent call for reform, Prosperity challenges the fundamentals of business thinking. It sets out a comprehensive new agenda for establishing the corporation as a unique and powerful force for promoting economic and social wellbeing in its fullest sense - for customers and communities, today and in the future. First Professor and former Dean of the S�id Business School in Oxford, Mayer is a leading figure in the global discussion about the purpose and role of the corporation. In Prosperity, he presents a radical and carefully considered prescription for corporations, their ownership, governance, finance, and regulation. Drawing together insights from business, law, economics, science, philosophy, and history, he shows how the corporation can realize its full potential to contribute to economic and social wellbeing of the many, not just the few. Prosperity tells us not only how to create and run successful businesses but also how policy can get us there and fix our broken system.

30 review for Prosperity: Better Business Makes the Greater Good

  1. 5 out of 5

    Jeff Kaye

    In all the diatribes about the problems with economics (its theory and its practice) too few have focused on the corporation. Colin Mayer's book is a gallant attempt to understand how the company works and why, especially in the UK, it is not fulfilling its promise. Of course, the company / corporation is a remarkable invention that brings people together and galvanises them into joint activities. Professor Mayer concisely takes apart the common Friedmanite view that the role of the company is to In all the diatribes about the problems with economics (its theory and its practice) too few have focused on the corporation. Colin Mayer's book is a gallant attempt to understand how the company works and why, especially in the UK, it is not fulfilling its promise. Of course, the company / corporation is a remarkable invention that brings people together and galvanises them into joint activities. Professor Mayer concisely takes apart the common Friedmanite view that the role of the company is to maximise shareholder returns and, via a tour through the history of companies, shows why this is an inadequate and harmful preoccupation. The purpose of the company is the key. Each company requires to show its purpose and values and carry it/them out to the full if it is to provide returns to its shareholders. The questions are what a purpose should be and whether they can accommodate all the elements of capital alongside shareholder capital - such as financial, natural, human, social. Adopting these other purposes would, Professor Mayer claims, repurpose the corporation to its proper role in the world - the role (in its sixth / seventh reincarnation) to the mindful corporation. This is in addition to a discussion of the role of government alongside the company and many other factors such as the role of banking and shadow banking, regulations and laws, governance. It is a wide-ranging analysis that is thoughtful and, in some areas, ingenious. If adopted, there is no doubt that the world would be better off as the mad drive for profit (and higher GDP) is offset by qualitative factors that are so central to our lives. There are caveats that I would make, of course. First, while there is discussion of the differences between SME's and the larger, global corporations that fill most of the pages, the evolution of the former into the latter is not mentioned. How companies are set up by individuals and then enter the harsh, competitive world when the owners may well be taking no salaries, working most hours and are slaves to the business and then how those that survive this process develop to larger companies and then how a few (a very few) make it to the the world stage like Amazon or Facebook or Google or Microsoft, is not shown. This would be fascinating as the purposes and values may be seen to evolve as the environment in which they operate changes. Survival goes to those that best adapt to that environment. Second, the global nature of companies in the 21st Century means that changes of the nature that Prof Mayer proposes are hard to see in one country. The competitive nature of business means that true purpose and value across all "capitals" in country may run foul of a more cut-throat approach elsewhere, where short-termism kills off the long-term approach. Third, the means to change mindsets so that the mindful company can accommodate all the areas that Prof Mayer suggests (which are perfectly correct in principle) is not seen. No guide to companies is shown that enables progress to be made; it seems all or nothing, which I am sure is not what is proposed. Perhaps the best that can be done is to see this book as an excellent challenge to the world of business and to governments that care about the future of man and womankind. The role of companies should be a central one and requires more thought and time than seems current, when most are concerned by regulatory issues at the margins, or externalities. All of these are important, but Prof Mayer is right to bring up the core issues against which we should all be judged. Prosperity is a well-argued, concise, well-written book providing vast amounts to consider.

  2. 5 out of 5

    alexander

    I enjoyed the Oxonian style of the book, efficient yet witty with a refreshing thesis opposing profit-driven companies with purpose-driven ones, with a comprehensive overview of the dimensions that are pertinent in explaining how these differ. I would have loved to read more about the historical origins of the corporation, treated summarily in the Evolution chapter, as well as the accounting recognition of externalities, but found my interest waning when Regulation, Infrastructure chapters dragge I enjoyed the Oxonian style of the book, efficient yet witty with a refreshing thesis opposing profit-driven companies with purpose-driven ones, with a comprehensive overview of the dimensions that are pertinent in explaining how these differ. I would have loved to read more about the historical origins of the corporation, treated summarily in the Evolution chapter, as well as the accounting recognition of externalities, but found my interest waning when Regulation, Infrastructure chapters dragged on a bit. A worthwhile reference.

  3. 4 out of 5

    Nate Shurilla

    Incredibly important ideas for the future of business and humanity in this book. Sometimes a bit dry, but such sound insight and clarity into how corporations need to, and can evolve to improve society.

  4. 5 out of 5

    João

    This is a VERY important book. Not always an easy read, but at the end the power of its ideas prevails. I think is vision of the corporation and ultimately of capitaliam will be adopted and considered normal in years to come.

  5. 4 out of 5

    Ed

    See review at https://edsteffes.me/2019/09/30/prosp... See review at https://edsteffes.me/2019/09/30/prosp...

  6. 5 out of 5

    Chris F

    Lots of fascinating ideas but a rather dense text with some dull stretches into corporate and financial law.

  7. 4 out of 5

    Rob

  8. 5 out of 5

    Florian

  9. 4 out of 5

    Martin

  10. 4 out of 5

    John Long

  11. 4 out of 5

    Benjamin Prestel

  12. 4 out of 5

    Paul Grosmann

  13. 4 out of 5

    José Enrique Millet

  14. 5 out of 5

    Phil Laforge

  15. 4 out of 5

    kartik gorai

  16. 4 out of 5

    Ron Cordes

  17. 5 out of 5

    Andrew Hill

  18. 5 out of 5

    Henriette

  19. 4 out of 5

    Chaz

  20. 5 out of 5

    Matthew Sekol

  21. 5 out of 5

    Andres Lara

  22. 5 out of 5

    Peter Marshall

  23. 5 out of 5

    Semajitation

  24. 5 out of 5

    Natalie

  25. 4 out of 5

    Richard Winter

  26. 4 out of 5

    Patrícia Adegas

  27. 4 out of 5

    Eleodor

  28. 5 out of 5

    Stephen F. Stine

  29. 4 out of 5

    Yvonne

  30. 5 out of 5

    Max Schulze

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