feature image
Do Corporations Need a Purpose?

Purpose is ubiquitous today, with companies rushing to declare a purpose beyond profit. However, purpose is also controversial because companies have a duty to deliver returns to investors. Moreover, the relevance of purpose seems uncertain – the only way to deliver long-term profits is if a company invests in its employees, customers, suppliers, and other stakeholders.

This presentation aims to critically assess the merits of purposeful business, using rigorous empirical evidence and practical case studies to demonstrate effective strategies, while highlighting potential shortcomings. The talk will discuss practical insights for implementing purpose-driven practices, how investors and citizens can play their part, and how we can distinguish businesses that are truly purposeful from those that are greenwashing. Professor Alex Edmans will draw his book, “Grow the Pie: How Great Companies Deliver Both Purpose and Profit”, which was named to the Financial Times Books of the Year.

Speaker Biography

Dr. Alex has a PhD from MIT as a Fulbright Scholar and was previously a tenured professor at Wharton and an investment banker at Morgan Stanley. He has spoken at the World Economic Forum in Davos, testified in the UK Parliament, and given the TED talk “What to Trust in a Post-Truth World” and the TEDx talks “The Pie-Growing Mindset” and “The Social Responsibility of Business” with a combined 2.5 million views. He serves as non-executive director of the Investor Forum, and on Royal London Asset Management’s Responsible Investment Advisory Committee. Alex’s book, “Grow the Pie: How Great Companies Deliver Both Purpose and Profit”, was a Financial Times Book of the Year for 2020, and he is a co-author of “Principles of Corporate Finance” (with Brealey, Myers, and Allen). He has won 24 teaching awards at Wharton and LBS and was named Professor of the Year by Poets & Quants in 2021