What has Religion got to do with “Corporate Purpose”? 

Working with Professor Irene-Marie Esser, Dr Catriona Cannon has drawn up a proposal for a new research project that will look at what the secular, for-profit sector can learn from faith organisations on implementing “corporate purpose” (a higher purpose beyond profit) into their operations. These are their preliminary considerations.

Should the purpose of business be solely to maximise profits? Profit maximisation theory – the idea that achievement of profits for shareholders ought to be the sole purpose of business – was vociferously defended by international economist Milton Friedman who, writing in 1970, resisted the trend at the time towards what is now known in the management and ethics field as “corporate social responsibility” (Friedman, 1970).

Despite Friedman’s protestations, the corporate social responsibility practices of companies have developed at a fast pace over the last fifty years, often pursued enthusiastically by business executives – whether for strategic, reputational or ethical reasons. Continue reading