Beyond the Bottom Line
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Beyond the Bottom Line

What society expects from business is evolving rapidly. Beyond providing returns to shareholders, businesses play a critical systemic role in the development of society and guardianship of the global environment. For many, this is uncharted territory. Success will come only if we continue to discuss and debate some of the most pressing questions, such as what is the purpose of business? Do investors hold the key to a sustainable future? And what does it mean to have purpose that goes beyond the boardroom?

We must chip away together at seemingly difficult trade-offs until their complexities unravel and solutions begin to emerge. It is in this spirit that we ask businesses, organisations, and policymakers: are you ready to think Beyond the Bottom Line?

Dr Luis Correia da Silva explores what this redefining moment means for businesses.

What is the purpose of business?

Why are so many firms insisting on telling us what their ‘purpose’ is? David Jevons, Oxera Partner, has been looking at the role of business in today’s society and discusses the purpose of a corporate purpose. Since the 1970s, introductory economics and finance classes have taught that the purpose of a firm is to maximise shareholder wealth; yet today, some of the most successful and high-profile firms are keen to communicate a different purpose.

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What are firms for? Redefining corporate purpose

What should be the purpose of a firm? To maximise profits or shareholder value, or to pursue wider societal objectives? Professor Julian Franks of London Business School, and Oxera Partner, discusses the roles of trust and implicit contracts in redefining corporate purpose. He looks at changes that may be required in regulated utilities, with a focus on water

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How does social media shape purposeful business?

Society is playing a growing role in shaping the way that businesses operate. Reflecting this, have become platforms to highlight good and bad business practice and help people coordinate responses. To what extent does this pressure influence core business operations? —and therefore the future of business? Tim Hogg, a behavioural economist at Oxera, takes a look at the role of social media in the context of thinking Beyond the Bottom Line.

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It’s what you know about who you know: market power in digital platforms

In the digital services market, platform operators compete for the attention of consumers. However, there are increasing concerns about their degree of market power, which can be difficult to assess using the traditional tools of competition and regulation. As calls for further regulation increase, authorities must ensure that their interventions do not lead to unintended consequences, such as reducing the gains that such platforms bring to society

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Fair ground: a practical framework for assessing fairness

Regulators are increasingly looking to firms to ensure that their practices are ‘fair’ in terms of the process followed (e.g. the type of data used) and the outcomes delivered (e.g. which consumers pay more). So, how can boards and senior managers satisfy themselves that practices are indeed fair and in line with their firm’s principles and risk appetite? We present Oxera’s practical framework, which has been used as a tool by senior decision-makers in financial services firms

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Fairness and competition in online markets: friends or foes?

Fairness is emerging as an increasingly important policy goal across sectors. We set out a framework for assessing fairness concerns, and examine the relationship between the aims of competition policy and fairness in current debates. Do the European Commission’s platform-to-business initiative and reputation systems for sharing platforms lead to fairer processes? And do online price differentiation and negotiations between platforms and content creators lead to fair outcomes? What is the role of competition in all of this?

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Consumer data in online markets

Businesses increasingly use consumer data to offer better and more targeted digital products and services. Many of these new business models rely on data to facilitate transactions and generate revenues in a way that was not previously possible. Access to personal data has understandably raised concerns about privacy. Based on a study commissioned by Which?, we investigate the delicate balance between privacy and the value of digital services

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Which direction is the FCA walking on prices?

Which direction is the FCA walking on prices?

Yesterday, the FCA published the terms of reference for the forthcoming general insurance market study; a thematic review of the home insurance supervisory programme; and a discussion paper on fair pricing in financial services. Who is affected? The market study will...

Loyal, lazy or time poor?

Today Citizens Advice issued a super-complaint to the Competition and Markets Authority about the ‘loyalty penalty’. According to Citizens Advice, firms are ‘routinely punishing their customers simply for being loyal’, which disproportionately affects vulnerable customers such as older people. Who is...
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