Select Page

The Economics of Corporate Purpose (w/ Bob Quinn & Anjan Thakor)

by Steve Stine

2020 has been a headline year, dominated by news of a global pandemic, US elections, Brexit and China’s rise to power. On the business front, Corporate Purpose has emerged as the theme of the year. It comes on the back of an August 2019 statement released by the US-based Business Roundtable, calling into question the primacy of shareholders. For the past 50 years, corporations have operating on the principle that the only responsibility of business is to generate profits for its shareholders.

With the world in such a muddle, that core idea is coming into question. If issues like climate change, inequality, and social justice aren’t addressed, there’s growing concern that societies everywhere will come face-to-face with collapse. Corporations – so say pundits – are best positioned to make a difference.

Helping companies make that shift so that purpose and profits might co-exist is the work of my two guests this episode. Robert Quinn and Anjan Thakor are US-based professors. Together, they wrote a book entitled: The Economics of Higher Purpose: Eight Counter-intuitive Steps for Creating a Purpose Driven Organization. I spoke with them by phone recently. We touched on the traditional employer-employee contract, the new operating paradigm, and what it takes to bring a purpose agenda to life.