Business Insights

Topical Perspectives in Business and Management

Liz Barlow, Publisher for Scholarly Business, Reflects on the Purpose of Business

P_Liz Barlow

Business has always played a crucial and multifaceted role in society – from creating entrepreneurial opportunity, to promoting economic growth and ensuring employees have dignified, well paid jobs.

At the Davos World Economic Forum this year, 1500 people flew in by private jet to hear David Attenborough talk about climate change. In the UK, CEOs made more money in the first three days of 2019 than their workers annual salary and, in the US, it’s been reported that bosses earn 312 times the average worker’s salary. If these stats sound alarming, it’s because they are. Business plays a crucial role in our society – no one can deny that. At its best it creates entrepreneurial opportunity and ensures that employees have dignified, well paid jobs. 

At the same conference, historian and author Rutger Bregman and Oxfam Executive Director, Winnie Byanyima, called out the disparity between what businesses say is good for society, and what actually is. While Bregman called on businesses to pay their fair share of tax, Byanyima highlighted the urgent issue of dignity at work. She pointed out that high levels of employment aren’t necessarily an indicator of success. As she said: ‘The quality of the jobs matter. In many countries workers no longer have a voice.’ 

It’s not really a startling new discovery. In fact our authors have been researching and writing on these topics for some time.

Our agenda this year is to promote work that critically analyses the role that business plays in society and help our authors put forward ideas and recommendations for businesses and policy makers. Is the purpose of business to create customers, or is social prosperity integral to long term business success?  By looking at the meaning of work, executive pay, morality and ethics amongst other topics, we encourage our readers to reflect on the true purpose of business.

Liz publishes scholarly books across all sub-disciplines of business and management. She welcomes proposals for monographs, edited collections, Handbooks, new series and Palgrave Pivots and is always keen to discuss new ideas. Get in touch with her at