‘Having a Purpose in Life: Good for Corporations, Good for Society?’

Increasingly, corporations are being asked to provide a statement of their ‘purpose’. The background of these appeals lies in a growing societal discontent with the short-term profit-orientations of many (larger) corporations. In a purpose statement, corporations would reveal what they see themselves contributing to society at large. This would help to re-embed them in society, and ensure that profits are instrumental to their societal contribution. Management scholars point to evidence that purpose-driven corporations perform better both financially and in terms of their social responsibility.

Lawyers argue that the law could more explicitly invite corporations to state a purpose in their by-laws. Such a statement would not be without consequences, since – so it is hoped – it would change the accountability dynamics of the corporation towards its shareholders and stakeholders. Is ‘purpose’ a helpful tool in holding corporations to account? Or is it, as critics argue, an empty promise; or even a harmful device leading to corporate un-accountability?

You are welcome to discuss these and related questions on Monday 22 November, during the seminar 'Having a Purpose in Life: Good for Corporations, Good for Society?' The seminar is organized by the Platform Market & Corporations in Open Societies, and brings together speakers that represent a wide degree of academic disciplines: from legal scholarship to the social sciences, and from philosophy to governance studies. After two consecutive rounds of contributions from three speakers, the floor is open to a general discussion.

Registration: Please register by e-mail (to L.vanKreij@uu.nl)
Additional information: https://www.uu.nl/en/events/seminar-having-a-purpose-in-life-good-for-corporations-good-for-society