30th January 2019


Is shareholder profit the mark of a successful business?

  • Prosperity cover image
  • Professor Colin Mayer

    Professor Colin Mayer

According to Wadham Fellow Colin Mayer in his latest book Prosperity, this idea is fundamentally wrong and has had disastrous and damaging consequences for our economies, environment, politics, and societies. 

Prosperity tells us how to create and run successful businesses in the 21st century while challenging the fundamentals of current business thinking.

“Mistrust in business is pervasive, persistent and profound,” said Colin Mayer who argues that corporations’ concentration on profit has occurred only over the last 60 years, before which they had combined a public purpose with commercial activities. “The consequence has been a growing conflict between business and the rest of society,” he adds.

Mayer calls for reform, setting 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.

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 realise its full potential to contribute to economic and social wellbeing of the many, not just the few.

“Corporate taxation should not be classified as a cost to be minimized for the benefit of shareholders but as the contribution, along with profits, that business makes to society as a whole,” he says.

Prosperity is published by Oxford University Press and was voted a Financial Times Book of the Year in 2018, described by journalist Martin Wolf as "[A] remarkable and radical new book."