Vol. 1 & 2: Making Capitalism Work for Everyone


The Centre for Enterprise, Markets and Ethics (CEME) is delighted to announce the publication of Making Capitalism Work for Everyone – Vol. 1 & 2, edited by Richard Turnbull and Tim Weinhold.


Volume 1 can be downloaded here and Volume 2 hereAlternatively, you can order paperback copies via contacting CEME’s offices at: office@theceme.org





Edward Carter: “Enlightened Entrepreneurs: business ethics in Victorian Britain” by Ian Bradley

This book’s subtitle is deceptive; it is not a volume about business ethics so much as a fascinating piece of social history. Ten great Victorian entrepreneurs are described in turn, with very little attempt to add any interpretation. The names of the ten speak for themselves: Thomas Holloway, Titus Salt, Samuel Morley, George Palmer, Jeremiah James Colman, Andrew Carnegie, George Cadbury, Joseph Rowntree, Jesse Boot, and William Hesketh Lever. Each chapter takes an essentially chronological view, with many delightful details set alongside a sweeping narrative of business-building, all within the context of the major social and economic changes that the Victorian era brought.

I was struck by how deeply these ten particular accounts of enterprise intersected with my own life history. For example, Thomas Holloway founded Holloway College in Egham, Surrey, which is very near where I grew up; the Colman factory site in Norwich, Nofolk, included nearby some purpose-built housing, one of which made a fine (albeit small) home for me and my wife when we were first married; and the Joseph Rowntree Charitable Trust (JRCT) is now a member of the Church Investors Group (CIG), which I chair, and one of the CIG Trustees is a JRCT nominee. More generally, many of the household products made or retailed by these companies are still to be found on our larder shelves. This is the kind of history that really does overlap with our lives in an ordinary, down-to-earth way.

While Bradley himself does not offer much interpretation or synthesis, I found plenty of themes that emerged. First, each story included accounts of what I call ‘attentiveness’: the ability to spot an opportunity and to be persistent in following it up. The entrepreneur is not someone who will carefully construct a five-year strategic plan for the future. Rather, she or he will be alive to opportunities. For example, we read of Titus Salt: ‘One day in 1834, while on a buying visit to Liverpool docks, he noticed a pile of 300 or so dirty-looking bales lying in a corner of a warehouse. They turned out to be fleeces of the alpaca…’ (p.28). As the account unfolds we discover how an attentive entrepreneur made the most of an opportunity that started a new industry. The technological advances needed came from someone else (the inventor), while the entrepreneur had eyes on changes in society, on ways in which resources could be mobilized, and how people’s imaginations could be caught and aspirations met.

Secondly, the connection to a certain kind of Christianity is very striking. Quakerism and Congregationalism, with their focus on temperate living, self-help, lack of privilege and simple hard work had a tremendously formative influence on all these ten men. Although they were restless in seeking out profitable business opportunities and in being competitive, they were never personally greedy for riches. Their lifestyles were in many ways frugal, and they all showed extraordinary generosity as benefactors.

Thirdly, all of them were to a greater or lesser extent paternalistic. In nearly all of the businesses described there is a ‘family’ feel, whether through care of employees who fell ill or through the well-known model villages such as Saltaire, Bournville, Earswick and Port Sunlight. One of the significant things about this is the way it anchors a business in a locality, and gives depth to its history. Although Bradley does not discuss this aspect, it seems to me that this ‘rootedness’ of enterprises is one of the hallmarks of the Victorian era. These were companies that had a good sense of where they belonged, both in time and in place, something that is generally much weaker now, when production facilities are relocated because of marginal cost advantages. It is simply inconceivable that George Cadbury would have moved his Bournville factory to Eastern Europe or the Far East to reduce costs.

Fourthly, each of these ten men was involved to some extent in public life. They wanted to make a difference to society, often in local or national politics. They saw business as an integrated part of how society works, rather than an ‘external’ source of tax revenue or some kind of threat to government or the people.

I enjoyed this book, but would have valued some kind of attempt to interpret these themes. Even more interesting would have been a discussion about how entrepreneurs today might help society rediscover its roots in time and place, but without the paternalistic baggage that belongs to a different era. Although it is tempting to describe the Victorian period as a golden age for enterprise, the truth is that businesses such as Facebook and Google have stories that are just as fascinating. However, such analysis doubtless belongs in a different book.

The writing style is clear and easy to read. Most of the book was written in 1987, with additional material added in 2007. It is therefore occasionally out of date, for example when describing the Cadbury business of today.


“Enlightened Entrepreneurs: business ethics in Victorian Britain” was published in 2007 (Revised Ed.) by Lion Books (ISBN-10: 0745952712).

Edward Carter is Vicar of St Peter Mancroft Church in Norwich, having previously been the Canon Theologian at Chelmsford Cathedral, a parish priest in Oxfordshire, a Minor Canon at St George’s Windsor and a curate in Norwich. Prior to ordination he worked for small companies and ran his own business.

He chairs the Church Investors Group, an ecumenical body that represents over £10bn of church money, and which engages with a wide range of publicly listed companies on ethical issues. His research interests include the theology of enterprise and of competition, and his hobbies include board-games, volleyball and film-making. He is married to Sarah and they have two adult sons.



Richard Turnbull: What is the purpose of a company?


In 1987 ICI, one of the leading chemical conglomerates at the time, described its purpose as follows:

ICI aims to be the world’s leading chemical company serving customers internationally through the innovative and responsible application of chemistry and related science. Through the achievement of our aim we will enhance the wealth and well-being of shareholders, employees, customers, and communities which we serve and in which we operate.

In 1994 the company objective had changed to:

Our objective is to maximise value for our shareholders by focussing on businesses where we have market leadership, a technological edge, and a world competitive cost base.

So, what changed? What changed so that ICI no longer aimed to be the world’s leading chemical company? What changed such that ICI’s application of science was no longer to be the innovative and responsible application of chemistry and related science, but only that in which they had a technological edge? What happened to the employees, customers, and communities which we serve, to be replaced by to maximise value for our shareholders?

The answer requires a book rather than a blog but the case of ICI is illustrative of the way in which business has become separated from ethics, values and a truly holistic purpose which historically served the economy and society well.

The Quakers represented, in 1850, no more than one half a percent of the population. Thus it is even more extraordinary just how many of our household names had Quaker origins – not least in financial services – Barclays, Lloyds, Friends Provident, Cadbury, Rowntree, Clarks (as in shoes), Huntley and Palmer (biscuits). The successful iron smelting that formed the basis of the Industrial Revolution came from a Quaker family, the Darbys.

I am not suggesting that the solution to the problems of business purpose and intent today is solved if we all became Quakers! However, what I am saying is that by understanding the key reasons why the Quakers were successful (mostly) in business can inform our contemporary debates in a helpful manner.

There were four key reasons behind Quaker business success, all of which have wider application today.

Understanding the culture shapes purpose and identity

Entrepreneurs do not flourish alone. Professor Mark Casson of Henley Business School has argued that the quality of entrepreneurship depends upon the quality of business culture. A strong culture is built upon trust, confidence integrity and quality. The strength of the Quaker culture had a direct impact upon their business success. The Quakers – among others – had by 1800 faced around 150 years of oppression, crucially including exclusion from the Universities. Hence many Quakers turned their minds to business. This persecution made them close-knit communities and it was within this setting that apprenticeships were developed, trust and confidence built as the major families all knew each other, with dishonesty and especially bankruptcy viewed in highly negative terms due to the impact on Quaker reputation. A strong culture which enhanced positive behaviour of honesty and integrity (quality products at fixed prices) and discouraged negative behaviour.

A willingness to talk and act morally

A major complexity today is that we have become so individualistic that moral behaviour is reduced also to the behaviour of each individual. We need to recover not ‘moralising’ but ‘moral character’ and ‘moral action.’ The reality is that much of the Quakers integrity derived from their spiritual principles. Their moral codes included injunctions against overtrading, honesty, payment of debts, caution over indebtedness, transparent and accurate accounts and understanding of the business. These principles derive from the Quaker ‘Advices’ and ‘Queries’ on trade issued between 1675 and 1793. Many Quakers became wealthy, but often had to endure the long and patient wait of the entrepreneur for success. As a result, they were not ostentatious with their wealth and certainly exercised personal discipline and frugality in the wait for a return. There are clear lessons for us today and we must become more willing to talk about moral values.

The central role of the family business

Generally speaking, negative views of business are aimed at the big corporates and more positive views of business related to smaller, local and family businesses (SMEs). All the successful Quaker businesses began as family businesses. Indeed, most involved the capital of the founders and owners being placed at risk. The opposite of limited liability. Growth inevitably led to a dilution of the family business and the need for capital ultimately led the leading Quaker businesses to adopt limited liability. However, the idea of the family business lay at the heart of the Quaker vision. The business was seen as part of the family and as a result concern for both quality products and the employees – so, everything from sport, to societies, savings clubs but also pension funds, sick pay and even bonus schemes.

Understanding the wider responsibilities of business and capital

The compartmentalisation of business from society is disastrous. The Quaker businesses had a much more holistic view of their purpose. Profitability was essential, but so were reputation, customers and the society of which they were part. The days of company’s building model villages providing housing – not charitable, but commercial – as well as ensuring community green space, fresh air and light may be over but the principles still provide lessons. Social purpose and commercial profitability and success are not mutually exclusive. Real relationships – between owners and managers, managers and workers, companies and customers and so on – are infinitely more purposeful than the remoteness and the contractual nature of so many business relationships.

How far we have come. Without a sense of ethical responsibility, disciplined moral behaviour and character and a recognition that capital and its economic return carry responsibilities as well as rewards, we will continue to increase the divide of business and society. However, we must also recognise that all of this can only be achieved in the context of a free economy where wealth creation is celebrated rather than despised and where the limits of government are recognised to be as significant as its regulatory and redistributive roles. A concern for society and the responsibilities of wealth do not need to be separated from a wealth-creating, efficient business enterprise. Profit is virtuous, but does not need to be maximised at the expense of all other demands.

Culture, ethics, family relationships, purpose, values, employees, responsibility – for all these things we can thank, at least in part, the Quaker businesses. All of those things are essential in restoring confidence in business today.

Richard%20Turnbullweb#1# (2)Dr Richard Turnbull is the Director of the Centre for Enterprise, Markets & Ethics (CEME). For more information about Richard please click here.

Green Markets, Sustainable Business – March, 2017

The Centre for Enterprise, Markets & Ethics (CEME) held a conference on ‘Green Markets, Sustainable Business’. Hosted by CEME and sponsored by CCLA Investment Management, the event focused on the green economy, investment trends in sustainable energy, and the environment.

It proved to be a terrific debate with passionate engagements from both the speakers and the audience. The distinguished panel of speakers included: Michael Liebreich (Chairman, Advisory Board, Bloomberg New Energy Finance), Rt Revd James Jones (Bishop of Liverpool 1998-2013), Baroness Bryony Worthington (Former spokesperson for Energy & Climate Change, Executive Director – Environmental Defence Fund Europe), Prof. David Vines (Ethics & Economics, University of Oxford), Andy Darrell, (Chief of Strategy, Environmental Defence Fund), Kingsmill Bond (Energy Strategist, Trusted Sources), and others.

The event took place on Thursday 2nd March 2017, at One Great George Street, London SW1P 3AA.


Conference Resources:

Andy Darrell – Investor Confidence

Michael LiebreichGreen Markets, Sustainable Business

Kingsmill Bond – The New Energy Revolution – From Morality to Market

Cameron HepburnCarbon Trading: Unethical, Unjust and Ineffective?

Erin Priddle – Environmental Defense Fund – EDF Oceans


Picture Gallery:


Richard Godden: “Platform Capitalism” by Nick Srnicek


Those who have studied modern technology based or enabled companies will doubtless consider Platform Capitalism to be superficial. Srnicek does not provide any worked through suggestions that will be useful either to the makers of public policy or to those involved in the management of business and many of his conclusions are contentious and appear to be based more on his prior left-wing accelerationist philosophical position than on the evidence presented in this book.

And yet: the book is interesting and thought provoking. Leaving aside the eccentric use (or, rather, minimal use) of paragraphing, Srnicek has an engaging style and presents a readable and helpful overview of the impact of technology on economic activity and of the strategy of technology companies. The book is short (l29 small pages) and can easily be read carefully in a couple of evenings. It is worth devoting this time to it.

Srnicek’s subject is the effect of digital technology on capitalism. He claims that “the platform” has emerged as a new business model and his aim is “to set these platforms in the context of a larger economic history, understand them as a means to generate profit, and outline some tendencies they produce as a result” (page 6). After a reasonably orthodox (if very obviously left-wing) review of economic and business trends since the 1970’s (primarily focussed on the USA and UK), he moves on to consider the emergence of “platforms”, which he defines as “digital infrastructures that enable two or more groups to interact” (page 43). He distinguishes five types of these: advertising platforms (e.g. the Google search engine), which allow their owners to extract information on users, undertake analysis, and use the product of this to sell advertising space; cloud platforms (e.g. Amazon Web Services), which comprise hardware and software that is rented out to digital-dependent businesses; industrial platforms (e.g. that of GE), which comprise the hardware and software necessary to transform traditional manufacturing; product platforms (e.g. that of Rolls Royce), which transform a traditional good into a service; and lean platforms (e.g. that of Uber), which are like product platforms but whose owners attempt to reduce their ownership of assets to a minimum.

The analysis of each of these business models is much the most interesting part of Platform Capitalism. Srnicek concludes, perhaps surprisingly, that lean platforms “seem likely to fall apart in coming years” (page 88) but he recognises that the other types of platform are here to stay. He sees some benefits in this (e.g. better products for customers) but his main focus is on the concerns to which the emergence of platforms gives rise.

His biggest concern is the perceived monopolistic tendency of platform capitalism. He returns to this on a number of occasions and asks “Will competition survive in the digital era, or are we headed for a new monopoly capitalism?” (page 94). This is certainly a question that needs to be addressed but, Srnicek’s analysis points to various factors that suggest that there will continue to be significant competition among the platform providers. Nonetheless, his prognosis is bleak. “Let us be clear,” he says, “this is ….. the concentration of ownership” and, he continues, “Far from being mere owners of information, these companies are becoming owners of the infrastructures of society” (page 92). This is surely unduly apocalyptic.

Srnicek’s other major concern relates to labour. It is here that his left-wing philosophy is most apparent. He points to some real concerns (e.g. the mis-labelling of employees as independent contractors with a view to avoiding employment protections) and he dismisses the absurd idea that user-created data comprises the exploiting of free labour. However, he makes many statements that rely on assumptions that are at best dubious. For example, his suggestion that “In a healthy economy [people such as Uber drivers] would have no need to be micro-tasking, as they would have proper jobs” (page 82) seems to be based on the assumption that the job market of, perhaps, 50 to 70 years ago is the only acceptable model and smacks of left-wing nostalgia for the days of manufacturing-based factory capitalism. Likewise, his suggestion that companies such as Airbnb have “off-loaded costs from their balance sheet and shifted them to their workers” (page 83) suggests preference for the rigidities of integrated corporate monoliths over the more flexible models permitted by modern technology.

The book also suffers in some places from loose use of terminology. For example, Srnicek several times mentions (with apparent disapproval) the “cross-subsidisation” that he believes is inherent in some platform business models (e.g. Googles) that involve providing a free service that enables advertising space to be sold. This use of the term is eccentric. Google is no more involved in cross-subsidisation than are the owners of commercial television stations or free local newspapers that have historically survived by selling advertising space. It is hard to see what is wrong with the Google “cross-subsidisation” model from a competitive or any other point of view.

More seriously, Srnicek’s frequent attacks on “tax evasion” are mis-directed. Many people are rightly concerned about tax evasion but he confuses illegal evasion with legitimate tax minimisation. In particular, he seems unaware that, pursuant to express US law, US corporations may legally avoid the payment of US tax on foreign profits for so long as these are not repatriated. He may not like the relevant US legislation but there is logic behind it and, in any event, companies can hardly be criticised for making use of it. His statement that “The leaders of tax evasion have …… been tech companies” (page 59) followed by a list of well-known names, without any supporting evidence, is both disturbing and disappointing.

The final section of the book (relating to what the future may hold) is less disturbing but equally disappointing. One idea is piled on another. In less than two pages, there are suggestions of: co-operative platforms; anti-trust action; regulation of, or even the banning of, lean platforms; co-ordinated action on tax; the creation of “platforms owned and controlled by the people”, which must nonetheless be “independent of the surveillance State apparatus”; “post capitalist platforms” (whatever they might be); and the collectivisation of platforms (pages 127/8). None of these ideas is explored and one may doubt the realism of at least some of them and the practical benefits of others.

This is a pity because there are many issues arising from “platform capitalism” that should be explored by both policy makers and those involved in business. What are the implications for privacy and, indeed, personal freedom and how should we respond to these? What kind of protections for “workers” are practicable and appropriate in a digital world? Where do the responsibilities of the platform companies to employees, customers, suppliers and others begin and end and how can they best discharge them? What kinds of regulatory regimes (if any) are needed for this kind of company and how can they be imposed in a digital, cross-border world? Generally, what does responsible digital business look like?

Srnicek fails to offer any insights into these matters. None-the-less, his analysis of the platform companies is important because it should help others to do so. It should also help all of us to note the way in which the business world is moving and avoid suggesting outdated solutions to modern business problems.


“Platform Capitalism” was first published in 2017 by Polity Press (ISBN 1509504869, 9781509504862), 120pp.

Richard Godden is a Lawyer and has been a Partner with Linklaters for over 25 years during which time he has advised on a wide range of transactions and issues in various parts of the world. 

Richard’s experience includes his time as Secretary at the UK Takeover Panel and a secondment to Linklaters’ Hong Kong office. He also served as Global Head of Client Sectors, responsible for Linklaters’ industry sector groups, and was a member of the Global Executive Committee.

Richard Godden: “Managing as if Faith Mattered” by Helen Alford & Michael Naughton


Managing as if Faith Mattered” is the first volume in the Catholic Social Tradition Series, published by the University of Notre Dame Press in response to Pope John Paul II questioning how many Christians really know and put into practice the principles of the Catholic Church’s social doctrine. Its target audience is thus, first and foremost, Catholics in business, although the authors say that they are directing their book towards Christians as a whole and that its content will be worth considering by all people (page xvii).

At the time the book was published, in 2001, Helen Alford was Dean of the Faculty of Social Sciences at the Pontifical University of St Thomas Aquinas in Rome and Michael Naughton was Director of the John A. Ryan Institute for Catholic Social Thought at the University of St Thomas, St Paul, Minnesota. Unsurprisingly, they adopt a precise analytical approach to their subject and, as the 73 pages of end notes illustrate, seek academic rigour. None-the-less, the two questions that they pose in order to frame their discussion are profoundly practical: “What kind of person should I as a manager or employee strive to become?” and “What kind of organisational community should I as a manager or employee strive to build and maintain?” (page 8).

They suggest that two unhelpful paradigms foster a divided life in present day Western culture: first, the paradigm of the “secularisers” (typified by Tom Peters, co-author of “In Search of Excellence”), who suggest that religion and spirituality have nothing to say to business since religion is by its nature a private affair; secondly, the paradigm of the “spiritualisers” (typified by Andrew Carnegie), who may have strong personal faith and seek to live out this faith in personal virtue but who “avoid judging business policies in light of their faith” and who “fail to be true to a faith that does justice” (page 15). Alford and Naughton, asserting the relevance of faith to business, take issue with both paradigms, before analysing three models of linking faith and work: what they call the “natural law approach” (which seeks to find common ground in order to mould secular organisations); the faith-based approach (which is manifested by organisations founded explicitly on faith inspired values); and the prophetic model (which seeks to challenge organisations). They recognise weaknesses in all of these models but urge that they all be kept in mind.

Alford and Naughton then address the purpose of business. They severely criticise the suggestion that this is merely to make money or, indeed, merely to enhance shareholder value; they draw attention to the limitations of a stakeholder model of organisational purpose; and they conclude that the purpose of business is “working together for the common good” (the title of Chapter 2), defining “the common good” as “the promotion of all the goods necessary for integral human development in the organisation, in a way that respects the proper ordering of those goods” (page 70). This definition then leads naturally into the consideration of the concept of human development in a corporate community and, at the core of this, is a discussion of “virtue” and, in particular, the four Catholic Cardinal Virtues.

The book then moves from the theoretical to the practical in four chapters that are collectively entitled “Making the Engagement”. These consider, in turn, job design, just wages, ownership and marketing and, whilst continuing to analyse and develop theoretical concepts, seek to consider practical solutions to business problems. Thus, for example, the discussion of pay suggests that three basic tests need to be applied: whether something is a living wage; whether it is an equitable wage; and whether it is a sustainable wage (page 130). This theory is then applied to remuneration concepts such as ESOPs (Employee Share Option Plans).

Finally, the book turns to spirituality at work, considering the use of prayer, scripture, daily reflection and, perhaps more surprisingly, liturgy.

All of this provides much food for thought. The critique of modern professional education for its failure to address the “ends of business” (page 16) and its recommendation by default of a “privatised professional ethic” (page 18) is particularly telling and its fresh look at the objectives of job design and remuneration is challenging. Unfortunately, however, the book is heavy going in places and some of it could have been more simply expressed. For example, the book would have been more accessible to its lay readers had the authors expressed more pithily their points relating to the distinctions between “foundational goods” and “excellent goods” (page 42) and between “common goods” and “particular goods” (page 49). Similarly, the discussion of virtue would have been more accessible to modern businessmen had the authors not felt it necessary to tie it back to Aquinas’s teaching. More generally, there is a grave danger that the key points made by the authors become lost in a sea of detailed analysis.

It is also disappointing that, for all the care in the analysis, unsupported contentious statements from time to time leap off the page. For example, the quotation (with apparent approval) of Peter Maurin’s statement that “when everyone tries to become better off, nobody is better off” (page 92) suggests a naïve “zero sum gain” view of global economics and the quotation (again with apparent approval) of the assertion that “a manager’s first obligation is maintaining the company as a going concern for the benefit of the stakeholders” (page 149) seems contrary even to the purpose of business as contemplated by the authors. Furthermore, many Christians will raise eyebrows at various theological statements such as the statements that we are meant “through virtuous living to attain the possession of God” (page 64) and the quotation of Pierre Teilhard de Chardin’s statement that “God is inexhaustibly attainable in the totality of our action” (page 207).

Those who are not used to Catholic academic analysis may also find the frequent quotation of Thomas Aquinas, Pope John Paul II and other Catholic authorities a distraction rather than a help and the authors’ use of the terms “Christian Social Tradition” and “Christian Social Teaching” to refer to what is specifically Catholic teaching is irritating even though, as the authors point out, in recent years there has been some ecumenical convergence in relation to social teaching (page 247).

This book is worth reading but it requires time, determination and a degree of patience.


“Managing as if Faith Mattered” was first published in 2001 by University of Notre Dame Press (ISBN 0268034613, 9780268034610)

Richard Godden is a Lawyer and has been a Partner with Linklaters for over 25 years during which time he has advised on a wide range of transactions and issues in various parts of the world. 

Richard’s experience includes his time as Secretary at the UK Takeover Panel and a secondment to Linklaters’ Hong Kong office. He also served as Global Head of Client Sectors, responsible for Linklaters’ industry sector groups, and was a member of the Global Executive Committee.

Edward Carter: “Capital and the Kingdom – Theological Ethics and Economic Order” by Tim Gorringe

I first read this book shortly after it was published in 1994, at a time when I was starting to explore the interface between Christian ethics and economics. Re-reading it some twenty years later has been instructive, now that this field has been developed rather more and is taken seriously again by at least some of those involved in politics and public life.

The book is set out in four parts, preceded by a helpful introduction in which Tim Gorringe sets out his stall by explaining how he uses Karl Marx as a dialogue partner throughout. This gives a hint as to his own political leanings. Indeed, in his introduction he even locates Marx as standing within the tradition of prophecy (p. xi). This means that Gorringe works essentially with a structured view of society and of economics that draws on Marxist theories of power and domination, rather than something more dynamic or entrepreneurial, and this is the undergirding theme of Part One. However, the theme of ‘narrative’ and economic history is certainly also present here, as part of his general critique of a version of economics that is ‘at the mercy of abstract laws which only experts can fathom’ (p. 22).

Within Part One I enjoyed finding at least two sharp criticisms of Brian Griffiths, Chairman of CEME, and having heard Lord Griffiths’ more recent reflections my sense is that he might now yield a little ground to Gorringe when it comes to the place for Christianity within public policy (see p. 13), while holding fast against the Marxist view on equality and liberty (p. 54). In certain respects, the world that Gorringe describes has changed. I particularly noticed this in his discussion of a living wage, which has now been embraced across the political spectrum in the UK.

Part Two of the book has four chapters that address more focused subjects. The first of these, ‘Work, Leisure, and Human Fulfillment’, sets out a valuable survey of Christian thinking through history on this theme, with the conclusion that ‘true leisure is not utilitarian’ (p. 77), and that both work and leisure are about human realisation. As a stand-alone section this would make good reading for anyone wanting a critique of a self-contained neo-classical economic world-view. However, the other three chapters in Part Two resonate more strongly with Gorringe’s Marxist theme, as they tackle the subjects of alienation, solidarity, resistance, and social justice. Gorringe looks for a ‘rejection of the individualism which divides people and sets them against each other, affirmation that humanity consists in working together’ (p. 102). While this is indeed a hopeful broad vision to set forth, as I read these words I found myself wondering whether it takes seriously enough the way in which entrepreneurial energies operate within the economy.

Part Three is given the over-arching heading ‘The Common Treasury’, in which Gorringe explores the subjects of personal property, inequality, planning and ecology. His general approach is one that advocates a socialist ‘control’ of the economy, and at one point he states that ‘some kind of global planning is needed’ (p. 140). Part Four then consists of a single final chapter, entitled ‘Two Ways’, in which Gorringe mounts a strong attack on global capitalism. It was here that I was surprised but pleased to stumble across a reference to the economist Joseph Schumpeter. His work had been used as ammunition within a 1980s debate between the Roman Catholic bishops of the USA and some prominent Catholic lay people. Reading this section carefully, my impression was that Gorringe brackets Schumpeter with a more general neo-classical take on economic theory, and then summarily lambasts them both. However, I would argue that he has missed something here, and that a more careful look at the contrast between Schumpeterian economics and the neo-classical approach would have been fruitful. In fact, Schumpeter has been taken in a Marxist direction, notably by Paul Sweezy, and I wondered if Gorringe might have changed his line if he had been aware of this.

On almost the last page of the book I then found this sentence: ‘There is nothing intrinsically wrong with enterprise, initiative and ownership. What is wrong is when these are harnessed to profit, power, self-aggrandisement, and inequality.’ (p. 166) As a programmatic statement this felt promising to me, but I struggled to see how large parts of the book itself could be taken to support or develop it. Rather, for Gorringe any sense of enterprise or initiative seems essentially to be subsumed within a Marxist superstructure, and the need for human cooperation to be played out in a society marked by planning and control. In the end, therefore, I found this book to be a helpful foil against which I wanted to put forward different ideas connected to human enterprise. However, as a major contribution in the field of theological ethics and economic theory its importance cannot be doubted.


“Capital and the Kingdom: Theological Ethics and Economic Order” was published in 1994 by SPCK/Orbis Books (ISBN 10: 0-281-04773-1)

Edward Carter is Vicar of St Peter Mancroft Church in Norwich, having previously been the Canon Theologian at Chelmsford Cathedral, a parish priest in Oxfordshire, a Minor Canon at St George’s Windsor and a curate in Norwich. Prior to ordination he worked for small companies and ran his own business.

He chairs the Church Investors Group, an ecumenical body that represents over £10bn of church money, and which engages with a wide range of publicly listed companies on ethical issues. His research interests include the theology of enterprise and of competition, and his hobbies include board-games, volleyball and film-making. He is married to Sarah and they have two adult sons.

Richard Godden: “Why Business Matters to God” by Jeff Van Duzer

Why Business Matters to God” is addressed to Christians. Jeff Van Duzer, now Provost of Seattle Pacific University and formerly Dean of its School of Business and Economics, suggests that Christians in business “have often been made to feel like second-class citizens in God’s kingdom” (page 9). His aim is to counter the attitudes that underlie this by affirming the intrinsic value of business work “as work full of meaning and importance to God”, whilst at the same time challenging what he describes as the “dominant business paradigm of the day” (page 9). The result is an excellent, well-argued and thought provoking book that should be read by all Christians engaged in business.

Van Duzer undertakes his task by using a theological framework, considering in successive chapters the implications for business of the biblical accounts of creation, fall, redemption and consummation.

From the creation story, he concludes that the material world matters to God, that human beings are called to steward God’s creation and that we are made to work (i.e. that work is not a punishment or a necessary evil). He notes that society has many institutions (e.g. families, churches and governmental bodies) and asks “which aspects of the creation mandate are best suited for business to handle?” (page 41). He points to the role of business in the creation of wealth and concludes that the intrinsic purposes of business are “to provide the community with goods and services that will enable it to flourish, and … to provide opportunities for meaningful work that will allow employees to express their God-given creativity” (page 42).

At this point, the reader may feel that the account of business is too rosy but this issue is squarely addressed in the next chapter, which considers the implications of the fall. Here Van Duzer parts company with the more extreme free market enthusiasts (both Christian and non-Christian) by stressing that “the market will not usher in the kingdom of God” (page 75) and suggesting that the market mechanism is an aspect of common grace that mitigates some of the consequences of the fall. He stresses that we cannot “equate market forces with God’s perfect will” (page 79).

Having done this, Van Duzer reverses the logical theological order and leaps on to consider what the biblical account of ultimate salvation (“consummation”) can teach us that is of relevance to business. In doing so, he heads into stormy theological waters as he assesses the relative merits of adoptionism and annihilationism as an explanation of how God’s new heaven and new earth will be inaugurated. He sides with the “cautious adopters” (page 94) but those who don’t take this view will be pleased to hear that it is not central to his argument and he acknowledges that “any conclusions we may reach must be held lightly” (page 83). This result is that this part of his analysis is less fruitful than other parts of it.

He next considers redemption and suggests that business must “concern itself with redemptive as well as creative work” (page 114), whilst accepting that it is operating within the “messy middle” (page 118). In this context, he rejects both the cynicism of those who suggest that “Business ethics is an oxymoron” and the optimism of those who argue that “Good ethics is good business” in the sense that there will always be a bottom line benefit for those practicing good ethics.

Van Duzer recognises that our attitude to business will turn to a considerable extent on our view of how Christians should engage with the world (what he calls our “posture of engagement”) and also upon our attitude to institutions of all kinds in the modern world. He devotes an “excursus” to each of these issues, of which the first is particularly helpful. It adopts Niebuhr’s typology (“Christ against culture”, “Christ of culture”, “Christ above culture”, “Christ and culture in paradox” and “Christ the transformer of culture”) and demonstrates how our answers to several key theological questions are likely to determine which type of cultural engagement we adopt and, specifically, our view of the role of business.

The final quarter of the book is less well structured than it might have been and parts of it would have better merged with the earlier chapters. None-the-less, it contains some worthwhile discussions of important issues such as business sustainability (in the broad sense) and, most importantly, the role of profit and enhancing shareholder value. Van Druzer recognises the essential instrumental role of profit but denies it any greater significance, specifically rejects the notion that the maximisation of profit or shareholder value is a primary goal of a business.

Although published under the IVP Academic banner, this is not an academic work. It does not interact extensively with other literature and it has no bibliography, although it makes good use of footnotes that may suggest further reading.

It is a short book and could not possible consider all of the angles on its subject. None-the-less, it would have been helpful had Van Duzer considered questions that arise from his dethroning of profit and shareholder value: Might this result in a loss of focus on efficiency and thus reduce wealth creation? How can managers be rendered accountable for the delivery of goals that cannot be quantified or otherwise clearly measured? If shareholders in a public company appoint and remove them, will the directors not always focus on the maximisation of shareholder value? Who might enforce any broader directors’ duties? Van Duzer is a lawyer by background and his views on these issues would be interesting.

Despite the final chapter’s focus on “making it real”, many readers may be left wondering how it is possible to translate Van Duzer’s vision of business into practice in a secular Western business context. This is a significant issue. However, the purpose of this book is to provide a Christian conceptual framework for business not to analyse in detail its implications in relation to day to day management. Addressing these implications would require another book and perhaps the only significant criticism that can be levelled at Van Duzer is that he hasn’t yet written it!


“Why Business Matters to God” was published in 2010 by InterVarsity Press (ISBN 10: 0830838880). 201pp.

Richard Godden is a Lawyer and has been a Partner with Linklaters for over 25 years during which time he has advised on a wide range of transactions and issues in various parts of the world. 

Richard’s experience includes his time as Secretary at the UK Takeover Panel and a secondment to Linklaters’ Hong Kong office. He also served as Global Head of Client Sectors, responsible for Linklaters’ industry sector groups, and was a member of the Global Executive Committee.

Andrei Rogobete: Ethics in Global Business

The Centre for Enterprise, Markets and Ethics (CEME) is pleased to announce the publication of Ethics in Global Business: Building Moral Capitalism by Andrei Rogobete.

The publication can be downloaded here. Alternatively, hardcopies can be ordered by contacting CEME’s offices via email at: office@theceme.org





Richard Godden: “With Liberty & Justice for Whom?” by Craig M Gay


With Liberty & Justice for Whom? is an analysis of the views of conservative Protestants about capitalism. It was written a quarter of a century ago and its focus is on U.S. writers. It is thus dated in parts and, in any event, many outside the U.S.A. will feel that Gay’s analysis is not wholly applicable to their context. Some will also find tiresome its almost obsessive quoting of other scholars, which betrays its origin as a doctoral dissertation. Nonetheless, the issues raised by it are of long-term general significance and, whilst Anglo-Saxon evangelicals are likely to benefit most from reading it, it could be read with profit by other Christians, those of other faiths and, indeed, anyone who wishes to consider the reasons why people who apparently share a common religious or philosophical starting point disagree so vehemently about economic and societal issues.

Gay divides evangelical intellectuals into three groups: the left (which, he suggests, essentially regards capitalism as oppression); the right (which, he suggests, has primarily engaged in the defence of capitalism against the critics of the left); and the centre (comprising those “whose appraisals of capitalism are neither wholly negative nor entirely positive” but who regard capitalism as a “cause for concern”; page 116). He examines the views of many people within each group, considering the essentials of their economic and political views as well as the way in which they use the Bible to support these views.

The first two-thirds of the book is largely descriptive, albeit interwoven with comment and evaluation. Gay then moves on to analysis. He believes that it is “clear that capitalism as such is not the only thing at issue in this debate but that the various evangelical factions are contending for entirely different socio-cultural visions of American society” (page 161). However, he points out that the difference between the competing views “is not a matter of competing moral and ethical paradigms but of disagreement on the question of whether capitalism promotes or prevents the realisation of the norms and values they hold in common” (page 166).

Gay attempts to use the “new class” theory of the Austrian born American sociologist Peter Berger in his analysis. He argues that those on the evangelical left are reflecting their membership of this new class (broadly those engaged in what he calls the “knowledge industry”) whilst those on the right reflect the attitudes and interests of the old middle class (occupied in the production and distribution of goods and services). He suggests that both evangelical groups have engaged in a process of “cognitive bargaining” with the secular world and, in particular, in their analyses, have compromised the more transcendent, or “other worldly”, elements of evangelical faith. He also asserts that “Both the evangelical left and right have succumbed to an ideological abuse of Scripture and a de facto (and occasionally explicit) confession of the ultimacy of economic life” (page 203).

Many of Gay’s assertions and suggestions are contentious. For example, he admits that his use of the new class theory is “provocative, to say the least” (page 203). Furthermore, one may question whether his categorisation of evangelical views (which he admits is arbitrary) is helpful. Is the analysis assisted by lumping Theonomists and Christian Reconstructionists together with Brian Griffiths and Peter Hill? Do those in what Gay terms the “evangelical mainstream” (whose views are moderately right of centre) really have much in common with the views of what he terms “progressive evangelicals” (whose views fit much more comfortably with the left wing analysis)? Gay observes that the “evangelical centre” has no economic programme, which suggests that it is not a real category worth examining. It might have been better had he examined the extreme right, the moderate right and the left (which Gay recognises is a more coherent group than the others).

Gay was doubtless conscious of the danger of being accused of criticising everyone else’s views without offering a view of his own but he wisely avoids entering into the detail of the economic and theological debate. Instead, he offers suggestions as to a way forward in the debate, which are set out in a 33 page “Epilogue”. Unfortunately, this part of the book is disappointing There is little to object to in what he says but the language used, particularly in the first part of the Epilogue, is less clear than might be desired and, overall, his suggestions do not add much to the debate. Furthermore, although he seeks to avoid taking sides, those on the evangelical left are likely to feel that he is in fact laying the foundations of an essentially right of centre viewpoint without fully justifying his position.

These are significant failings but they should not put anyone off reading this book. It provides a wealth of food for thought and challenges: Why is it that evangelical economic debate so closely mirrors the corresponding secular debate, albeit with the addition of Biblical analysis? How much of the evangelical contributions to economic debate derives from the Bible, how much from secular assumptions and how much the compromise with the groups in which the relevant authors move or a reaction against these groups? To what extent are arguments caused by a disagreement as to whether criticism of the existing economic order is to be based on a comparison with an ideal or a comparison with practically available alternatives? Should the debate focus on the detail of capitalist economics or will progress only be made if the underlying assumptions and issues relating to our concept of society are addressed? Specifically, are those debating capitalism and other economic models guilty of a failure to examine whether terms like “liberty” and “justice” are being used by everyone in the same sense?

These questions are well worth considering and, by raising them in the context of a detailed analysis of the spectrum of evangelical opinion, Gay provided and, 25 years on from his book’s original publication, continues to provide an excellent foundation for further thinking.

“With Liberty and Justice for Whom?” was reprinted in 2000 by Regent College Publishing (ISBN 10 1573831328).

Richard Godden is a Lawyer and has been a Partner with Linklaters for over 25 years during which time he has advised on a wide range of transactions and issues in various parts of the world. 

Richard’s experience includes his time as Secretary at the UK Takeover Panel and a secondment to Linklaters’ Hong Kong office. He also served as Global Head of Client Sectors, responsible for Linklaters’ industry sector groups, and was a member of the Global Executive Committee.

Richard Godden: “Firm Commitment” by Colin Mayer

Colin Mayer is Professor of Management Studies at the Saïd Business School in Oxford. He believes that “the corporation is failing us” and that dramatic changes in the rights and obligations of those who control corporations are needed. Firm Commitment explains why and makes proposals for change.

Mayer uses the term “corporation” to refer to the kind of limited company that is commonly used by large businesses. He recognises the huge benefits that corporations have brought but he considers them to be seriously flawed. Indeed, he describes his book as “both a tribute to and a condemnation of this remarkable institution that has created more prosperity and misery than could have ever been imagined”. He perceives the main problem to be that corporations are seen as the creatures of their shareholders, rather than as independent entities, and this leads to the pursuit of shareholder value over the interests of stakeholders other than shareholders. In support of this, he cites numerous well-known corporate scandals.

The primary focus of his book is the UK and Mayer appears to believe the position here is worse than elsewhere. However, he is not starry eyed about any currently available option. Notably, he recognises that family and other tightly owned companies may have their own problems and scandals (citing Parmalat) and, in any event, family ownership “is not the resolution to the 21st–century corporation’s problems”. He is also dismissive of the attempts that have been made in recent years to correct problems through regulation (which, he asserts, “promotes immoral conduct”) or through enhanced corporate governance (which, he suggests, may promote increased shareholder control to the further detriment of other stakeholders). He suggests that what we need is “to find mechanisms by which companies can demonstrate a greater degree of responsibility themselves without relying on others to do it for them”. Specifically, he suggests that “we need to establish the means by which corporations can demonstrate more commitment to their stakeholder community”.

Salvation is in what he calls “trust firms”, which would be like existing corporations subject to three adaptations: entrenched within their constitutions would be corporate values (which might reflect the values of their founders, public policy or other things); there would be trustee boards to act as custodians of these values; and the corporation would have “time dependent shares” whereby the voting rights of shareholders would depend upon the extent of their commitment to hold their shares for the longer term (e.g. a share which its holder is committed to hold for a further ten years would have ten times the voting rights of a share which the holder is only committed to hold for one more year).

Mayer does not want any compulsion to be applied in relation to this. He argues that diversity in corporate forms should be permitted. He does, however, suggest that there be tax incentives to encourage the use of trust firms.

There is a lot to applaud in this book. In particular, there is depressingly little evidence that increased regulation or the focus on corporate governance in recent years has materially improved the corporate world and, against this background, Mayer’s stress on the importance of “commitment” as opposed to “control” deserves serious consideration. It links with ideas derived from the work on “relational thinking” that has been undertaken in recent years by, amongst others, the Relationships Foundation and Tomorrow’s Company. Furthermore, the concept of a “trust firm” is an interesting one that could contribute to the development of a broader view of corporate purpose and responsibility.

Unfortunately, however, this is a flawed book. Perhaps Mayer has tried to cram too much into 250 pages. Whatever the reason, almost every page contains contentious statements or statements that require significant qualification. Although there are plenty of footnotes referring to past research, there are also many ex cathedra statements as well as many assertions and assumptions with which specialists will take issue. For example, some of the statements of law are, at best, partial and Mayer seems unaware that much of what he proposes can already be achieved through existing law (as, for example, the entrenchment of editorial independence within the constitution of The Economist Newspaper Ltd illustrates). He also accepts dubious interpretations of past events. In particular, his long description of the Cadbury takeover accepts the views of its former chairman, Sir Roger Carr, without examination. This is a pity because others involved in that takeover (including former Cadbury directors) have different views and consideration of these might have led to Mayer modifying some of his suggestions.

More seriously, Mayer’s analysis of the objective of corporations is unhelpful. He states that “shareholder value is an outcome not an objective” and even quotes former GE CEO Jack Welsh in support of his views. However, his argument only addresses the use of short term share prices as the test of shareholder value and his suggested alternative as a corporate objective is demonstrably inadequate. He asserts that a corporation’s “first and foremost objective is not to its shareholders, or to its stakeholders. It is to make, develop, and deliver things and to service people, communities, and nations”. It is unclear from where he derives this overarching normative assertion and, in any event, it is no more useful than saying that the objective of corporations is “to do things”! It does not help a corporation’s management to decide whether they should remain in heavy engineering or move to IT or whether to be a volume manufacturer or a niche player.

Finally, Mayer’s evident confidence that the trust firm does not suffer from serious flaws and is the solution to the myriad of issues that he has identified is not backed-up by careful analysis. He appears to recognise this since he says that his ideas need to be “subject to careful scrutiny”. They certainly do and, whilst they are undoubtedly worth such scrutiny, it may be seriously doubted whether they are the “cure all” that Mayer appears to believe.

That said, provided that the book is read critically, it is well worth reading.


“Firm Commitment” by Colin Mayer was first published in 2012 by Oxford University Press (ISBN-10: 0199669937).

Richard Godden is a Lawyer and has been a Partner with Linklaters for over 25 years during which time he has advised on a wide range of transactions and issues in various parts of the world. 

Richard’s experience includes his time as Secretary at the UK Takeover Panel and a secondment to Linklaters’ Hong Kong office. He also served as Global Head of Client Sectors, responsible for Linklaters’ industry sector groups, and was a member of the Global Executive Committee.

The Challenge of Social Welfare: Seeking a New Consensus

The Centre for Enterprise, Markets and Ethics (CEME) is pleased to announce the publication of The Challenge of Social Welfare: Seeking a New Consensus by Brian Griffiths, Richard Turnbull, James Perry and Maurice Glasman.

The publication can be downloaded here. Alternatively, a hardcopy can be ordered by contacting CEME’s offices via email at: office@theceme.org or by telephone at, (+44) 0186 5513 453.




Edward Carter: God and Enterprise

The Centre for Enterprise, Markets and Ethics (CEME) is pleased to announce the publication of God and Enterprise: Towards a Theology of the Entrepreneur by Edward Carter.

The publication can be downloaded here. Alternatively, hardcopies can be ordered by contacting CEME’s offices via email at: office@theceme.org or by telephone at, (+44) 0186 5513 453.




Richard Godden: “The Tides of Life” by Bill Pollard


The Tides of Life is impossible to categorise: it is not an autobiography, although the majority of it comprises autobiographical material; it is not a business leadership and management manual, although it contains a lot about leadership and management; and it is not a systematic work about Christian living, although it is full of guidance about just that.

Bill Pollard was for many years the CEO of ServiceMaster, the much studied and admired former Fortune 500 Company. Prior to that, he was, for a time, a practising lawyer in private practice and, for a brief period, an academic. Throughout his life he has been involved in educational projects and charities. He has seen much success, including the extraordinary growth of his company, but has also experienced the varying “tides of life”, including the early death of his father and, recently, the death of an evidently much loved grandson (who appears on the cover of this book). Now, in the evening of his life, he has written a book about what he calls the “lessons and choices in life”. Essentially, it is an overview of what he has learned through his many and varied experiences.

The result is a structured miscellany: there are reflections on what “our humanity is all about” and on God’s ordering of the world; thoughts about responsibility and stewardship; discussions of the nature of work of and purpose of business, the role of leaders and managers and how God may be served by those in business; and, last but not least, reflections on the importance and nurturing of relationships. In all cases, Bill Pollard teaches by means of stories from his own life, which are placed within the framework of a biblical world view.

Happily, in recent years there has been a considerable upsurge of interest in the calling of Christians to serve God throughout their everyday lives rather than through some detached “Christian service” element of them. Bill Pollard believes passionately in this calling and wishes to pass on what he has learned about how to put the theory into practice. He is clearly a man who has never stopped learning and, judging by the number of times he quotes what others have said to him over the years, a man who never forgets advice that he has been given. Above all, he is a man who believes in providence and who lives his life in the light of Proverbs 19:21 (“Many are the plans in a man’s heart but it is the Lord’s purpose that prevails”), which is quoted at the head of one of the chapters of his book.

Arguably, he tries to cram too much into the space available. For example, the seventeen pages devoted to good corporate governance include matters as diverse as the ideal size for a corporate board and comments regarding what went wrong in the banks in the run up to the global financial crisis. Some business people will find this section of the book superficial. However, this is a quibble rather than a serious criticism.

More significantly, even having read Bill Pollard’s fierce criticism of the results of the absence of morality in the market place, some Christians may question the merits of the market economy to which he is committed and may be disappointed that he largely asserts these benefits rather than arguing for them in an academic manner. He similarly asserts his Christian world view rather than seeking to defend it. This, however, merely reflects the nature of the book: it does not purport to be a work of free market or Christian apologetics. It is thus unlikely to persuade a reader to accept its basic premises. However, it demonstrates how these premises may be lived out in practice and may cause sceptics to ask themselves whether this might indeed be the way that we should live our lives. Furthermore, if like me you agree with the premises, you will find here a mine of practical Christian teaching and advice.

This is not a book to read quickly. It is worth reading in short sections over a prolonged period of time, reflecting on each part of it before moving on to the next part. It may be impossible to categorise but it is none the worse for that.


“The Tides of Life” by Bill Pollard was first published in 2014 by Crossway Publishing (ISBN 1433541742, 9781433541742).

Richard Godden is a Lawyer and has been a Partner with Linklaters for over 25 years during which time he has advised on a wide range of transactions and issues in various parts of the world. 

Richard’s experience includes his time as Secretary at the UK Takeover Panel and a secondment to Linklaters’ Hong Kong office. He also served as Global Head of Client Sectors, responsible for Linklaters’ industry sector groups, and was a member of the Global Executive Committee.

Andrei Rogobete: Sports Direct gives business a bad name


Sports Direct’s founder and Chief Executive, Mike Ashley has admitted to paying staff below the minimum wage. The consultancy firm Mckinsey & Co. has been found to have a ‘secretive’ £5bn proprietary investment fund for its partners and BHS, the high street retailer has filed for bankruptcy in a downward spiral of events that would put most soap operas to shame.

What a week it has been!

It sure does feel like the year’s business stories have all been compressed in the space of one week.

Here are some thoughts:


     1. There will always be a few bad apples

In the ‘free’ marketplace there will always be those that play so close to the legal line that they sometimes trip themselves over. Such was the case with Mike Ashley’s Sports Direct where staff were required to go through excessive security checks during which time they were not paid. In the parliamentary enquiry, Mike Ashley admitted that staff were paid below the minimum wage and also that the company “outgrown his ability to manage it”.

I remain rather sceptical.

Within a free market economy there will always be some (especially at the low-cost end of the spectrum of any given industry) that are so ruthless in minimizing costs that they sometimes, intentionally or unintentionally, dip into illegal territory.

Alongside Primark, Sports Direct is effectively the Ryanair of the sports retail industry. And like Ryanair, Sports Direct operates with an iron fist on efficiency.

But financial efficiency should not come at the cost of employee fairness and the well-being of staff. Indeed, the two are prerequisites for the long term stability of a company (see also point 3 below).

Perhaps of even greater moral concern is the widespread use of zero-hours contracts by Sports Direct as the normal means of employment.

There is a case against the minimum wage and there is a case in favour of zero-hours contracts. However, for wages to be so low as to breach (even on a technicality) the law and for zero-hours contracts to be the norm rather than the exception does not give confidence that the directors and senior executives of a business are aligning the interests of all rather than just some of their stakeholders.

Mike Ashley’s admission that the company has got too big for him to run raises very deep questions about governance.


     2. Not all businesses are evil

We must not assume that all businesses are run in this way. The majority of businesses, and therefore people, involved in the private sector are upright and strive to do well in the workplace as well as their private lives.

It’s difficult to believe this when you hear stories like BHS owner Dominic Chappell giving death threats to Darren Topp, then CEO of BHS. When Darren questioned him about an unannounced £1.5 million withdrawal from the company’s accounts, Mr Chappell reacted by saying that “If you kick off about it I’m going to come down there and kill you.”

As atrocious as these events may sound, we must not lose hope in the good that business can bring.

Yes, the collapse of BHS was ugly beyond imagination and yes, the 11,000 people that are now unemployed is a tough pill to swallow – but despite all this we must not paint the entire private sector with the same colour.

Simon Walker from the Institute of Directors recently said in an interview that “… [the BHS case is] completely inexcusable and outrageous, and what worries me is that it makes people think that’s what British business is like and it’s not. British business is about hard working people who have often mortgaged their houses to get businesses going, this is as far from the world of normal businesses in this country as anything can be” (BBC Newsnight).

We need to hear some good stories.


     3. It all comes down to Ethics

I have said it before and I will say it again: A company’s genuine commitment to a set of core moral values is crucially important to its long-term financial and reputational stability.

A strong commitment to a set of moral values will impact the entire business. From staff pay and working hours to the firm’s products and services, the senior management should strive to ensure that their decisions and actions are aligned with the firm’s core values.

Businesses that fail to instil a sense of morality and wider responsibility will sooner or later, have to pay the consequences of their actions.

It’s people’s livelihoods on the line so the stakes couldn’t be any higher. Let’s hope businesses are listening.


Business needs to argue its case.

Andrei Rogobete

Andrei Rogobete is a Research Fellow with the Centre for Enterprise, Markets & Ethics. For more information about Andrei please click here.

Andrei Rogobete: Business Values must be practiced, not preached

This is an excerpt of a speech given at the GSM Annual Conference on the 12th May 2016.


I would like begin by saying it is an absolute pleasure to be with you today. I was originally born in Timisoara but I have lived for most of my life in the UK – so it’s always great to come back home and see my family and friends.

In the brief time that I have at my disposal I hope to convince you of the importance of ethics and moral behaviour in our Globalised world of Business.

Most economists and news agencies like to claim that we are currently living in the “post-financial crisis era”.

But I would like to argue that at heart of the financial crisis was not just a crisis of finance but a crisis of morality – with reckless behaviour driven by greed and the pursuit of ever faster and larger profits. This was well illustrated in the gross and artificial subprime mortgage bubble in the United States.

Despite this challenge, the free market remains the most effective form of wealth creation: more people have been lifted out of poverty in the last century than any other time in recorded history. The United Nations reports that extreme poverty has been reduced by over 50% since the early 90s. A market economy gives people hope, purpose, and a genuine sense of achievement – but clearly we have a remaining problem: human greed and misconduct.

What would a solution to the problem of greed look like? Should the Government impose higher taxes and regulations on the private sector? Should the penalties be so high that no company would risk illegal or corrupt activity? Would a highly regulated market protect consumers without slowing innovation and growth? These are approaches that have been tried and tested, and failed time and time again.

It is my belief that we need a free market economy, but one that is built upon a foundation of ethics and moral values.

In business we are often encouraged to look forward – And rightly so. Whether it’s planning for a new product or service, it is crucial to be forward-looking in the world of business.

However, we must also be aware of the past. History is a blessing because it shows what works, and what doesn’t.

If we are not aware of the events that have occurred in the past, we end up repeating the same mistakes over and over again – And sadly, that is often the case.


It is for this reason that I would like us to take a look at the Quakers of 17th Century England. Here we will see how deep-rooted values played a critical role in business success.


But who exactly are the Quakers?

The Quakers were a group of English Puritans that emerged in the midst of the Civil Wars of the 17th Century. It was a time of fertile ground for the emergence of new ideas in the political, social and religious spheres.

One man named George Fox was a substantial provider of such new ideas. Very much a product of his time, George Fox became deeply disconnected with the teachings of the Church and its approach to faith. More specifically, the fundamental clash with the Established Church came when he advocated the notion that each individual can have a direct relationship with God without the need of ordained clergy.

Born in a ‘middle-class’ family, Fox grew up in an environment of tough religious discipline and Christian teaching.  However, Fox went beyond the formalities of doctrine and his faith a deeply personal affair – one that would dictate his path in life.


But how did the Quaker’s faith shape their business values??

  1. The first and fundamental belief is that all humans are of equal value.

Equality of value should not be confused with uniformity. Clearly, human beings are different, each unique in their own traits. However, historically Quakers believed that “There is that of God in everyone”.

This belief effectively translated into a practice of equality and respect within the workplace in stark contrast to the customary hierarchy of the time. A ‘flat’ organizational not only allowed Quaker businesses to be effective organizations on the inside, it also enabled them to build long-lasting relationships on the outside.

The reputation Quaker businesses established in society would go before them in the marketplace, almost guaranteeing their success in building a network of trust and ultimately, ensuring profitability.

  1. The second core Quaker belief is in a genuine, personal relationship with God. 

In claiming that each individual can have a direct, personal relationship with God, the Quakers found themselves under systematic persecution from the Church and State. However, it was their personal faith that guided their moral business code of conduct.

  1. The third and final core belief is love and respect for one’s neighbour. 

This core Quaker belief is rooted in a strong sense of community with other human beings – all sharing together in God’s creation. This led Quakers to organize in fellowships and large groups where they would meet regularly and share in the faith that united them.

For business, it translated to a great sense of responsibility and stewardship toward their entire business ecosystem. Whether work or private, a sense of collective responsibility and respect entered all aspects of life.


So were the Quakers successful in business?

Highly Successful. Here are some examples..

Barclays – UK’s largest retail bank

Lloyds – Major UK bank

Clarks – UK’s largest shoe manufacturer

Cadbury – Major chocolate manufacturer

And others…


However, what happens when companies forget about upholding the ethical values the proclaim to believe in?


CASE : Volkswagen

One example that I’m sure you are all familiar with is the Volkswagen Emissions Scandal.

Although not a Quaker business, the Volkswagen emissions scandal was arguably the defining corporate story of 2015. It came as a shock not only because millions of customers were deceived (11 million according to VW), but rather because the culprit was the ‘peoples-car’, Volkswagen.

The Volkswagen group has over 550,000 employees and a presence in more than 150 countries worldwide. Over the decades the Volkswagen brand has established a global reputation of reliability, robust ‘German’ engineering, and value for money.

VW built a reputation of being a brand that you can wholeheartedly trust. The company prided itself on upholding the very highest ethical values and business practices.

The Emissions scandal caused colossal damage to the Volkswagen Group. Like the Barclays LIBOR scandal, the damage was both financial and reputational.

If on the Friday, the 18th September 2015 VW’s shares were trading at 161 euros per share; by the end of Monday, the 21st September Volkswagen’s share price dropped to 111 euros per share, losing almost 30 per cent of its market value. That’s close to a 30-Billion-euro devaluation in one day of trading. Fig. 1.2 illustrates the share price plummeting.

It is a big price tag to pay for something that other car manufacturers like BMW, Toyota and Mercedes have been able to comply with. Therefore, we can only conclude that it is not an issue of technological knowledge but an attempt to maximize profit through illegal business practices.

As damaging as the financial costs are, the reputational damage even worse. It will take years for Volkswagen to win back trust from its customers and the general public. As Warren Buffet once said, “It takes 20 years to build a reputation and five minutes to ruin it. If you think about that, you’ll do things differently”.

The Volkswagen Emissions scandal is a clear example of a company failing to uphold an ethical culture and paying the price for it.


So then, what are some lessons that we can learn from the Quakers and the example of Volkswagen?


  1. Purpose is greater than profit

Purpose trumps profit. The successful business of the 21st Century is one that sets its aims above profitability. While profit is crucially important, the objective of financial profit should become the result of a purpose-driven business model. The Quakers set up businesses in obedience of God and fair treatment of others. Their main objective was not just profit.

But it is not only Quaker businesses that were successful because they were driven by purpose. Arthur Guinness, the founder of Guinness Beer wanted to help alleviate the severe alcoholism in Dublin so he introduced a lighter beer as an alternative to gin or the other strong spirits. Henry Ford envisaged a nation on wheels and in 1908 he introduced the first mass-production car, the Ford Model T.

The vast majority of long-term, successful businesses have one thing in common: they are driven by a purpose that goes beyond profit.


  1. Moral values must become an intrinsic part of the business

Companies must truly uphold a set of moral values in the pursuit of achieving their purpose. In the global marketplace of the 21st Century, a company’s set of values must be seen as a critical part of the long-term business plan.

Values must be practiced, not just preached. They must be truly lived out in the day-to-day activity of the business.

Chief executives and senior managers have the responsibility to influence the rest of their staff and employees. They must strive to embody of the company’s culture and shared values.


  1. Companies that fail to implement an ethical culture will suffer

Businesses that fail to implement a sense of morality will sooner or later, have to pay the consequences.

This is mainly due to two global forcesglobalization and the widespread use of social media.

In this sense the rapid growth of social media can be seen as an effect of technological Globalization. Social media has become a global platform of discussion and sharing of information at lightning speeds. It has brought millions of people closer together regardless of geographical distance. It has democratized information, giving tremendous collective power to online communities – A power that can expose morally corrupt companies.


I would like to end on saying that ultimately, a business should not promote a moral culture simply out fear of social media or the online backlash – it should because it is the right thing to do: for the long-term prosperity of the business, as well as the wider society it operates in.


Thank you!

Andrei Rogobete

Andrei Rogobete is a Research Fellow with the Centre for Enterprise, Markets & Ethics. For more information about Andrei please click here.

Richard Turnbull: Moral and economic issues in the EU Referendum

This is a transcript of a speech given as part of a debate on the EU Referendum. The event was organised by James Cowper Kreston and held at the Oxford Union.


The EU Referendum – some moral and economic perspectives

Thank you for the invitation to speak this evening, and thank you also for putting on this event.

How, then, will we decide between the competing visions for Europe, for the future of the United Kingdom and our relationship, not only with Europe, but with the world? Will we decide on the arguments about economics, borders or sovereignty? Will we make our decision on the basis of statistics? And if so, which particular statistics will we rely upon? Or maybe we will decide on the basis of propaganda – but who’s propaganda would we trust; the government’s, the Brexit campaign or some other vested interest?

My initial observation is that larger businesses, especially those with a significant export market to Europe, tend to be more swayed by the economic arguments for remaining (that is, primarily the argument of access to markets) than smaller businesses that tend to be more exercised by the impact of regulation (that is, the control of markets)

So, this evening, I want to open up a different kind of question, to try and bring a moral economic perspective into the debate, or perhaps two questions, one about the nature of markets, access to markets, trade and employment and another about regulation, control, business development, entrepreneurship, innovation and creativity.

The most depressing argument in this debate is….the EU costs us £55m per day (gross amount, no account of rebate or EU payments to the UK) or £35m a day (net of the rebate and closer to the amount actually paid over) or £23m a day (net of EU payments for farming and poorer areas support – but not counting the payments to universities for research). Cash and economic costs and benefits are not the same thing. We must go deeper in our analysis. And we should ask questions about purpose, the long-term economic costs and benefits, not just cash payments.

The most significant economic argument is concerned with access to markets. The reason it is the most important question is that economic growth is a necessary condition for individual, family, community and national welfare. This is a moral question. Without economic growth we damage employment prospects, reduce the tax base and stifle innovation. Economic growth is not a zero-sum game and is also a prerequisite for the political debates around wealth and income creation and distribution. In other words, unless we bake the cake in the first place, we cannot debate how the cake should be divided.

So, we should ask how best, then, to bake the cake. Access to markets means trade and exchange, import and export, competition and so on. The freedom to trade has shaped and transformed the world we live in. So, we know the EU represents the largest single market in the world (with the US being second). The UK is the largest market for exports from the EU (though only at around 16% of total EU exports), but for the UK around 44% of our total exports go to the single European market, though that percentage has been falling.

Does this mean that the UK couldn’t negotiate its own free-trade agreements with other countries, or that either new or even traditional markets could not be opened up or expanded? No, it does not mean that, but it does mean that we need to take very seriously indeed, the opportunity for access to the world’s largest single market and surrender that only after very careful thought. To lose that access is not irreplaceable, but would certainly damage short and medium term growth prospects, and there would be a cost to the negotiation of multiple trade agreements which may, or, more likely, may not, obtain equally favourable trade terms.

And we certainly need to be wary of naivety; the oft-quoted Norway model is illusory; Norway pays 90% of the UK per capita payments, they have to observe the single market regulations, and, indeed, it is worth quoting The Economist reporting a Norwegian minister as follows, ‘if you want to run Europe, you must be in Europe. If you want to be run by Europe, feel free to join Norway’ (Economist, 4th March, 2016, p20).

So, let me turn to the second question, that of regulation. The impact of the EU on the regulation of the market is undeniable. Part of the problem stems from the fact that what we read about in the newspapers is the silly stuff – the size of a vegetable, bendiness of bananas and cucumbers, regulations on washing-up gloves and so on. In reality the regulative impact of the EU extends far and wide into employment, market regulation, discrimination, health and safety, and into industry sectors from investment management to transport and shipping.

How are we to assess the nature and impact of this regulatory regime? Let’s start with the negative impact. There is little doubt that there is a ‘regulatory bureaucracy’ about the EU which rather reinforces the observation of Andrew Bailey, formerly the deputy-governor of the Bank of England, that ‘the main consequence of an increase in regulation is an increase in the number of regulators.’ Similarly, I think there is a cogent argument that EU regulation is an easier burden to bear for larger firms than smaller and medium-sized enterprises; and, in my view, it is SMEs who are the powerhouses of innovation, entrepreneurship and growth, indeed, collectively also of employment. Perhaps the Working Time Directive is an example of that. The directive, with the laudable aim of protection, is, however, an example of the different cultural mind-set between the UK and a Europe that sees the control of working hours as a governmental responsibility. You can see how, with a regulation like the Working Time Directive, a larger organisation with the resources of an HR department, would find those rules easier to manage and implement than an SME. Some of the industry-specific regulation is of a similar outlook – so, a significant number of effective, focussed, co-owned and co-invested small investment management firms find the burden of the regulatory regime focussed and geared towards the larger investment management firms, with their resources and capacity – all investment management firms with funds under management of more than £100m are treated the same, subject to the same requirements, reporting and regulations. So, I am persuaded that there is a negative impact of EU regulation.

However, there is a ‘but.’ First, I believe, morally, that the freest access possible to markets should be encouraged, but as we know, the free market is never quite as free as we think or might like. So, the single market itself is surrounded by a tariff wall; free Europe or fortress Europe? And in addition to tariff walls around the single market, because a free market is never entirely free, and indeed is populated by participants and players who do not possess perfect information, and, I might add, are not perfect and flawless characters, a degree of regulation is necessary. Second, therefore, the idea that leaving the EU means we can simply sweep away all of this regulatory regime is neither right nor appropriate. Even if we left the EU, and abandoned the more bizarre or restrictive regulations, the reality is that any independent UK government is going to impose the overwhelming majority of the current regulatory regime. So, although, I too would like changes, I too find the bureaucracy and extent of EU regulation irksome, it is naïve in the extreme, to think that leaving the EU would enable all of this regulation to be simply abandoned.

So, where have we got to? We have, I think, established the importance for economic well-being of the single market; with the challenge that we might lose other opportunities, but with much uncertainty. We have also argued that there is a negative impact of a regulatory regime bearing heavily on SMEs; yet with the reality that it would not all be swept away by leaving.

How to decide? I remain sceptical of the campaigns and the propaganda from both directions! Rather, ask this question, what will best enable the maximum flourishing of the economy which in turn will enable the flourishing of individuals, families, communities and the nation? Is access to the single market and its benefits too significant to surrender? Is the regulatory regime of the EU sufficiently oppressive and burdensome that it prevents SMEs from flourishing? Of course, there are other considerations, non-economic arguments about borders and sovereignty, but as business people, we need to assess fairly the moral imperative of ensuring a successful business environment for the country. The answer to that question might vary from person to person, but let us at least ask the right questions.

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Dr Richard Turnbull is the Director of the Centre for Enterprise, Markets & Ethics (CEME). For more information about Richard please click here.

Lord Griffiths: Wisdom is something practical, it is a manual for living


This is a transcript from a speech given at Clare College, Cambridge on Friday 11th of March, 2016.

It is a great pleasure and honour to be invited to address you today at this service to commemorate the benefactors of the College, and in particular its founder, Elizabeth de Burgh, Lady of Clare.

When the Master, Lord Grabiner, invited me to speak I was delighted to accept not least because of my own involvement in higher education. For the first 20 years of my career I first taught and did research in the field of monetary economics at the London School of Economics (LSE) and then moved to a chair at The City University where I was appointed Dean of the Business School.

One interesting aspect of this Commemoration is that we are celebrating it in a College chapel, using Christian liturgy, readings from Solomon’s Book of Wisdom, in the Apocrypha and the Gospel of Saint Mark and with prayers being said. Not all of us here today may be believers but the place we are in and the form of this service recognises that there is a mystery to be explored which goes beyond our academic pursuits. We recognise it in music, in paintings, in poetry, in the beauty of nature and we see it today in the readings we have heard. This is in complete contrast to the environment in which I studied and then later taught, namely the LSE. We had no chapel and in the whole of my sixteen years as a student and then member of staff I never attended a religious service in the School simply because to the best of my knowledge there were none to attend.

So I am delighted that this service provides an opportunity for us to recognise that in this country our understanding of benefaction is deeply rooted in our Judaeo-Christian heritage. Ever since I was an undergraduate I have been interested in the relevance of Christian social ethics to economic life and over the years one thing which has struck me is the Jewishness of Jesus. A question I have often found myself asking is whether there is any aspect of Christian-social ethics which is not found and rooted in Judaism?

Over the centuries the Judaeo-Christian understanding of human dignity, the rule of law, social justice, rights to the ownership of private property, the importance of the family and care for the disadvantaged have shaped our society. So it is with benefaction. Our heritage has placed great emphasis on charitable giving to help others in need and to promote the common good. And In this respect Jewish and Christian communities have over the centuries set an outstanding example.

Today we are remembering the former and current benefactors of this College and in this context I would like to explore three aspects of benefaction which I hope, given our common heritage, will resonate with people of all faiths and none.


One of these is the importance of gratitude.

Gratitude is recognised as a virtue in all major religions. Even for a humanist such as Cicero, gratitude was “not only the greatest of the virtues but the parent of all others”.

For myself I owe a great debt to those who provided the means for my own education, first at a primary and then at a grammar school in Wales and later as an undergraduate and post-graduate student at the London School of Economics. I am sure that everyone attending this service today will have certain individuals and institutions to whom they will forever be grateful.

I should add that I am grateful not just for the financial support I received as a student but also for the encouragement of teachers who took a personal interest in my development. In this respect the benefaction of time can be just as important and demanding as the benefaction of money.

Incidentally gratitude has more recently been shown to have unintended benefits. Over the last fifteen years or so psychologists have undertaken research to explore the impact of gratitude. The evidence suggests that a correlation exists between gratitude and increased well-being. Gratitude is positively related to life satisfaction, hope, optimism, empathy and the willingness to provide support to other people. In the field of behavioural economics research has found that gratitude is correlated with generosity and increased monetary giving. In addition the evidence also suggests that grateful people are more likely to sacrifice individual gains for community well-being.

In the ‘me-centered’ spirit of modern society a life of gratitude does not come easily. A culture of consumerism alongside the relentless striving to be the best and win, in highly competitive global markets can so easily foster a constant state of dissatisfaction with our material well-being, with the result that we neglect to recognise gratitude as a virtue.


Gratitude is a great virtue. So is generosity.

Elizabeth de Burgh was an outstanding example of generosity. In the Commemoration address we heard how at a difficult time in the life of this county, following the Black Death, when I feel sure there would have been many requests for charitable giving she was generous and took a long term view. She gave money to ensure that the College would provide for the education of poor Scholars of ability. Not only that but in her will of 1335 she singled out that money be left to a number of other good causes: the poor religious, women who had fallen on hard times, poor householders and merchants, poor parish churches and poor prisoners.

A gift does not have to be large however to be worthy of being a genuine benefaction, because each gift however small is itself an expression of generosity.

Generosity was highlighted for us in the story from Mark’s gospel, which is an account of an occasion when Jesus and his disciples were in the Temple at Jerusalem sitting opposite the treasury and watching people making their donations. The rich put in a great deal of money. The poor widow puts in just two small copper coins worth very little. Yet she is praised by Jesus for contributing more than the wealthy, “this poor widow has put more money into the treasury than all the others. They gave of their wealth; but she, out of her poverty, put in everything – all she had to live on”.

For me the greatest argument for generosity in the New Testament is that of St. Paul in his second letter to the church at Corinth, which extends to two whole chapters. Paul was highly intelligent, well educated, restless, argumentative but also a great campaigner for the cause of the poor. The first century church at Jerusalem had fallen on hard times and it is clear from his letters that wherever he went he not only proclaimed the Good News but encouraged generosity in giving in order to help the poor in Jerusalem. In doing so in his second letter to the Corinthian church he held up as an example the Macedonian church, which although extremely poor gave generously – in fact the words he used were that they gave “even beyond their ability”.

His clinching argument was “for you know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that though he was rich, yet for your sakes he became poor so that you through his poverty might become rich” (2 Cor. 8:9)


Gratitude, generosity and finally wisdom.

Before Elizabeth, Lady Clare, gave generously to establish this College she first showed very clearly in the Preface to the Statutes of the Foundation of 1359 the value she attached to learning: “experience plainly shows”, she wrote that “learning is no mean advantage in every rank of life”: she made it clear that she was concerned to “further the public good by promoting learning”: her purpose in founding the college was that “students should discover and acquire the precious pearl of learning”.

Learning in the Abrahamic faiths is invariably associated with a book, a body of sacred texts. We read this evening from The Book of Wisdom by Solomon. From this and more generally from the Wisdom Literature of the Old Testament (Job, Psalms, Proverbs, Ecclesiasties and the Songs of Songs), it is clear that wisdom is about more than acquiring knowledge and information.

Canon David Atkinson, former Canon, Chancellor and Missioner, Southwark Cathedral expresses it succinctly in his Commentary on Proverbs;

“wisdom is no abstract concept; wisdom is personified: she is described as a woman…This personification of wisdom is not a (mere) literary device; it reflects the essential nature of biblical wisdom. Wisdom is embodied. Wisdom is for living”

Wisdom is something practical. It relies on knowledge but is more than learning. It is based on experience and common sense. The lady Wisdom possesses widely respected qualities: honesty, fidelity, integrity, love, justice, modesty. Taken together they might well be regarded as the marks of a ‘person of character’. Wisdom is a manual for living.

Wisdom begins with awe, the recognition that there exists something greater than ourselves. However awe is also the beginning of wisdom, in that it is not acquired in a moment but grows throughout a lifetime.

In today’s highly competitive market place in higher education and certainly something I found as Dean of a Business School, is that it is far easier to provide knowledge and information than to grapple with fostering the development of those qualities which together characterise a wise person.

In the opening stanzas of his poem, Choruses from the Rock, T.E.Elliot after noting the constant innovation and unending 24/7 activity of an industrialised society poses challenging questions,

Where is the life we have lost in living?

Where is the wisdom we have lost in knowledge?

Where is the knowledge we have lost in information?

Let me conclude on a personal note.

When I was made a life Peer I was invited to put forward a design for a Coat of Arms and a motto, something I did some years later. I choose a pair of ospreys the symbol of Swansea where I was born and grew up, a brewin (a play on Brian) holding in his forepaw a leek and two red gryphons not unlike dragons to signify Wales, a stack of books because of my interest and commitment to learning, three trees representing my three children and a motto which read in Welsh:

Ofn yr Arglwydd yw dechrau doethineb

The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom

I chose it because I believe it and I commend it to you.

Brian Griffiths (Color)

Lord Griffiths is the Chairman of CEME. For more information please click here.

Google should not be demonised

Poor old Google. Well, not so poor actually. According to their SEC 10-K filing group profits amounted, in 2014, to $17.26bn. Google’s UK sales (mainly internet advertising), based upon the billing address of customers, were around $6.5bn in 2014. Lots of sales, but, apparently no profits. Google themselves told the Public Accounts Committee in 2012 that they don’t actually make UK sales. Of course, that is true. To suggest otherwise, might imply a permanent residence for tax purposes and trigger all sorts of consequences – such as paying more Corporation Tax. There are, though, sales from a Dublin registered company to people in the UK. The basic corporate tax rate in Ireland is 12.5%, in the UK 20% and in the US, 35%! So, Ireland get the business. If I buy a product from an American company or an Irish company then the sales and profits are generally accounted for in the country of origin. A British company selling in the US would account for and pay tax on the transaction in the UK. Well, that’s the easy bit. It gets much more complicated when subsidiaries are involved and there are transactions between them…as we will see.

So, what’s the problem?

Mind you, for a Professor of Accounting, Prem Sikka, seems rather naïve. He estimated that rather than the £130m settlement Google reached with HMRC the figure should have been nearer £1.8bn. I have no idea if he has the right figure. And neither does he. HMRC said that they collect the full amount of tax due on profits and no less.

Why the discrepancy?

Before, rushing to judgement (John McDonnell described the payments as ‘derisory’), let’s try and be objective.


  • Google pays a lot of tax.

Most of its corporate taxes are paid in the US (approximately $2.5bn in 2014). The company also pays corporate tax – at a lower level ($0.8bn) – in Ireland. Google also pays a lot of tax in the UK and collects even more on behalf of the government. Google has around 2,400 employees in the UK (though I cannot confirm the exact figure). Let’s assume that the average salary approximates to that of the Top 100 companies in the UK, namely, £31,929. So that is an annual tax bill of, say, £7.9m per annum in National Insurance Contributions (NIC for employers is 13.8% for all remuneration above £8,160). Not to mention business rates and all the taxes on consumption and irrecoverable VAT the company incurred. It might be that the tax burden on Google and other companies should be higher. Or not. But we must remember the total tax bill that companies face, not just Corporation Tax.


  • An awful lot of other people seem to think they know what Google should pay

It’s odd how tax campaigners always seem to know how much tax companies should pay. It is a very strange morality. Google can be forgiven for, perhaps wrongly believing that the taxes they are due to pay should be determined by the rule of law, the tax provisions set in Parliament. We do not know what Google’s UK profits are, should be, or should not be, unless there are some rules to determine the calculations.


  • The rules are complex and not always clear

George Osbourne introduced the Diverted Profits Tax in order to deal with large multi-nationals potentially diverting profits. Google, we are told, would not have been caught. I read the Diverted Profits Tax legislation. Like the rest of the tax code it is not straightforward, complex and requires interpretation to determine whether a company is caught by its provisions or not. This was a simple reminder of the complexity of the tax code, a point quite simply overlooked by many campaigners. Elections, claims and, indeed, judgements are invariably required.


  • Legislators legislate

Parliament has the ultimate responsibility to legislate. There are ways in which the tax provisions could be simplified. However, we are naïve in the extreme if we think it is straightforward to enact a national tax regime for multi-national companies. Even multi-nationals need to be protected from double taxation (the same income taxed twice in different places) and there are many provisions to prevent cost and value shifting. Indeed, there are moral issues about depriving Ireland (say) of its tax revenue from Google, when they have been attracted there by a transparent and public lower rate of tax. If a UK subsidiary pays a US parent (or a Bermudan subsidiary) for the use of the brand, what is a fair price?


  • HMRC investigated for six years

We do not know the actual, precise amount of tax liability, if any, in dispute between Google and HMRC. It is possible that Google and their advisors believe this to be Y and HMRC believe it to be 4Y. So, HMRC could seek to impose 4Y. And Google could stand firm on the grounds that their interpretation of the law produces Y. HMRC could go to court. They might win. They might lose. It will cost millions of pounds in direct costs and even more in opportunity cost. So, a deal is done at 2Y. Except it is not a deal, but an agreement that 2Y is the amount of tax that is due.

So, we should not join with the so-called tax justice campaigners who display a false morality about tax. The campaigners seem to think that they should be the arbiters of Google’s and other companies tax liabilities. I prefer the law to determine the liability.

And yet, my sympathy for Google is limited.

First, let’s spell out the roots of the accounting problem.

The core of the issue lies in what sales and what costs should be booked in the UK. Only then can the level of profits be determined and appropriately taxed.

If I buy a product from the US, the income and costs will be recorded by that company in the US. If that US company sells so much in the UK that they set up a subsidiary to sell those products here then the sales and costs will be accounted for and taxed in the UK (with relief given in the US for double taxation).


Problem 1. Google (and others similarly) do not officially ‘reside’ in the UK, but Dublin, or Bermuda, the Netherlands or Switzerland, where depending on the precise corporate structure corporate tax rates are lower.


Problem 2. Google sell internet advertising, but almost certainly there will be payments between subsidiaries which have the effect of transferring costs and revenues. So for example, London may charge Dublin for, say, ‘sales and marketing services’ so that the income in Google UK more closely matches it costs (employees, rent etc), and hence reducing the profits in Dublin which are then subjected to the (lower) rate of corporate tax. It also seems likely that a subsidiary in Bermuda (even lower tax) makes charges to Ireland for the use of intellectual property. There are existing rules about ‘transfer pricing’ (effectively it must be an ‘arms-length’ transaction) but what precisely would be a fair or reasonable price?.


Other issues might involve inter-company loans, charges for use of the brand and (probably not in Google’s case) payment for raw materials. The pricing of these transactions is complex and can generate very different outcomes.

In essence a low corporate tax regime should encourage investment, employment and transparency. Google should not be targeted or demonised for meeting its obligations, nor HMRC for agreeing past and (more importantly) future arrangements.

Yet, at the same time, Google is being disingenuous. There is, without doubt, substantial economic activity in the UK by Google and it is not unreasonable for a corporate tax liability to arise. The OECD is encouraging national governments to change the tax arrangements of multi-nationals so as to reflect this economic activity. In reality this cannot be achieved by individual nations.

So, the deal with HMRC is central. Confidentiality in taxpayer affairs quite reasonably prevents disclosure of the arrangements for the past. However, assuming HMRC will seek to apply consistent principles to others for the future payment of tax, it is not unreasonable to disclose those principles. It is not good enough for Google to say they will book more sales to the UK (perhaps more costs too, so there will still be no profits) nor for HMRC to hide behind confidentiality when what is needed is not details about an individual company, but details of the principles which will be adopted going forward.

Google should not be demonised. They pay a lot of tax and arrange their affairs accordingly and legally. However, it is reasonable for there to be a tax regime which does bear some relationship to economic activity. What that regime is to be, we should be told.

And, maybe, just maybe, what is at fault is the whole approach to corporate taxation. To introduce a new tax allowance or restriction is easier than to remove one – long-term consequence, less certainty and more complexity in the tax code. If a company employs more people due to it competitive advantage there are tax gains for government, economic growth, more employment and so on. Maybe we should abolish Corporation Tax and all its associated reliefs and allowances. Make the profits, invest the profits, remove the profits (duly taxed as income in the hands of the recipient), improve employment, pay and so on. Just a thought.

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Dr Richard Turnbull is the Director of the Centre for Enterprise, Markets & Ethics (CEME). For more information about Richard please click here.

Stakeholder relationships matter

First coined in 1984 by R. Edward Freeman in his book, Strategic Management: A Stakeholder Approach, Stakeholder Theory brought a new and somewhat radical approach to the study of organizational management and business ethics. Radical in the sense that it became the first theoretical framework to secure a prominent position for the interplay of values, responsibilities, and ethical decision-making in managing a business.

In contrast to the traditional shareholder view, stakeholder theory promotes a way of business conduct that takes into account all the parties that come into contact with a company’s ecosystem . From shareholders and employees, to customers, suppliers and the local community. A ‘stakeholder’ is a person or group that can affect or be affected by the business in question.

Here are three key lessons that we can learn from Freeman’s Stakeholder Theory:

  • – Businesses that effectively manage all stakeholder relationships are more likely to succeed in the long-run.
  • – Stakeholders must be considered together and not in isolation, working together in the same direction.
  • – In the long-run, all stakeholders are equally important for the future of a business.

At the end of the day, both internal stakeholders (such as employees, management, shareholders) as well as external stakeholders (customers, the local community and even governmental or non-governmental organizations) – all have the power to significantly damage, and in extreme cases, bring down a business that mistreats them.

Wise companies must recognize the value in a stakeholder-driven management approach.

Andrei Rogobete

Andrei Rogobete is a Research Fellow with the Centre for Enterprise, Markets & Ethics. For more information about Andrei please click here.

We need to talk about work

CEME will be publishing a ‘theology of work’ in late 2015 so it was particularly helpful to listen to Yves de Talhouet, senior Vice-President of Hewlett-Packard on the subject.

Work is essential to human flourishing. All sorts of implications flow from that including for government welfare policies. However, work is not necessarily in the state it should be in. Gallup have shown that 16% of workers are actively disengaged from their work which has enormous cost in terms of productivity, community and the collective intelligence within a workplace.

Yves described work as under attack from two sources, both of which need to be resisted. The first is the classic ‘work is a necessary evil,’ or simply viewed as a prison to escape from. Actually work delivers well-being, defeats poverty and dependence and so needs to be encouraged. More interesting was Yves second point about work being under attack. In this case work was under attack from management systems driven only by numbers, productivity, targets etc, key performance indicators – all of which had the effect of disguising real work.

Work has three aspects:

  • The subjective – work is intricately related to human being
  • The objective – the measured output
  • The collective – human relationships

A proper understanding of work involves all three of these aspects to be properly recognised. The problem is that the objective side (measurement, targets) has grown to the extent that nothing else seems to matter. Work is reduced to process and the consequence is disengagement. More value needs to be put into the subjective side (recognition, encouraging self-esteem) and the collective (team work, solidarity, community).

It seems to be me that we either over-emphasise the objective as Yves suggests so that we become obsessed by outputs and targets, or  we ignore that productive side altogether in pursuit of some vague collective ideal. Work both dignifies humanity and is essential for producing goods and services. Work enables us to flourish and provide for our families. Work, for the Christian, reflects God’s purpose for us. Work is important.

If work is conveys both dignity and economic productivity then its lack destroys both. So unemployment is not a good thing and we should encourage policies which encourage enterprise, growth and hence employment. At least part of the purpose of a firm is to provide employment in the process of producing economic surplus.  However, discouraging work also damages human dignity and purpose. CEME is strictly independent and works with people across the political spectrum. Nevertheless, if minimum wages are imposed at too high a level for all jobs, or welfare benefits set at too high a level, the consequence could be to discourage work. Equally, in order to encourage work there is surely a case for a degree of wage subsidy at the lowest points of the wage scale to encourage people into work. However, if tax credits potentially subsidise the proper wages employers should be paying then there is an even stronger case for a lower introductory rate of income tax which would encourage work, avoid subsidies and indeed the impact on take-home pay as income rises.

Whatever the policy prescriptions work not only must pay, but work must also be valued and invested with true worth, value and dignity in all its fullness.

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Dr Richard Turnbull is the Director of the Centre for Enterprise, Markets & Ethics (CEME). For more information about Richard please click here.

Profit and sustainability are compatible

The inspiring session of the day came from Daniel Servitje, Chairman and CEO of the Bimbo Group, Mexico.

Bimbo is one of the world’s largest baking goods industry firms with a capitalisation of US$12bn and around 129,000 employees.

The company was described as ‘rooted in long-standing values,’ shaped by strong corporate governance and a determination that businesses and society must work together for human dignity and the common good. The company, he said, was both highly productive and deeply humane.

The aims of the company where shaped by a matrix:


Economic Social
  External             Providing valuable goods and services to society Contributing to the development of society in a sustainable way
Internal Compensating employees, members, investors Contributing to personal and professional development of employees


This was a powerful reminder that profitability and sustainability are not incompatible. However, it is entirely reasonable for a company to have aims and objectives that are not simply defined by shareholder value maximisation. Of course, a successful and sustainable company may well do just that.

Daniel pointed out that his company was involved in sectors of the economy which attracted criticism – baked goods and health. The companies social responsibility platform was built on four areas:

  • Well-being: promoting physical activity, research into nutritional improvement
  • The planet: using renewable energy, developing electric delivery vehicles, waste management , degradable packaging
  • Community: promoting volunteering, supply chain transparency, community development
  • Associates: talent, health, training and development of employees

All employees were encouraged to take part in the 3-day company sponsored off-site development event, covering  person, family, work, society, culture and spirituality.

The fascinating thing about the presentation was the holistic and integrated nature of the approach to sustainability. Social responsibility was not an add-on, but fully part of the company and its objectives – and not as an alternative to profitability. At the heart of the company’s purpose was providing goods and services at profit. Alongside that came creating jobs, investment, promoting a formal economy (in a country, Mexico, where much of the economy is ‘informal’ which denies extensive tax revenue to the government), developing and sharing knowledge and skills. The outcome was better people, companies and countries.

It would be great if more companies, large and small, thought about their aims and objectives, the role of profit and sustainability, with the same degree of intent.

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Dr Richard Turnbull is the Director of the Centre for Enterprise, Markets & Ethics (CEME). For more information about Richard please click here.

Capitalism must take poverty seriously

I am passing through Rio de Janeiro en route to Belo Horizonte to attend the XXV World Congress of UNIAPAC (The International Christian Union of Business Executives) on the theme of “Business, Government and civil society working together for the common good.”

This is my first visit to South America and Rio has presented me with a capitalist conundrum.

What a great city. The beach at Copacabana is wonderful (well, it looks marvellous, I have not yet had opportunity to explore!). The setting, the mountains, the water, the statue of Christ the Redeemer are exceeded only by the friendliness of the people.

I know well that many cities and metro areas like Rio throughout the Americas and Africa present contrasts and poverty and wealth mingle together. My driver took me past large swathes of ‘shanty town’ like housing. It was not that I have never seen anything like it before (I have visited Cape Town in the past), but the capitalist conundrum struck me again.

The quality of the housing was shambolic. Half-built buildings, many exposed to the elements, seemingly built one on top of the other stretching back from the highway into the hilly areas behind. The conundrum is this. Almost all had satellite dishes and air-conditioning units. So on the one hand there seems to be poverty (at least as represented by poor housing) and on the other the poor exercising consumer choices in a capitalist economy that would reflect many more affluent  priorities.

Are these apparently irreconcilable priorities reconcilable? Can capitalism provide a solution to the poverty of housing and indeed poverty more generally as well as providing such consumer choice?

Here are a few thoughts:

  • – Housing is a fundamental human need and improvement in the quality of housing makes a real difference to the quality of people’s lives
  • – Human individuals will make consumer choices within the capitalist system and have the freedom to do so (the satellite dish in the shanty-town)
  • – Enterprise, work and wages are the essential pre-requisite to lifting the populace out of poverty

The problems which I think arise are when wages are so low they are unable to sustain the basic infrastructure (housing) yet provide some opportunity for consumer choice. I cannot believe how cheap the taxi fares are.

According to the Economist Brazil is in a hole and still digging. One of the largest economies in the world has seen GDP contract, deficits grow and government corruption is rife. A country the size of Brazil, of course, and in its regional setting, faces many difficulties of environmental issues, inclusion and so on. The 2016 Olympics is seeing significant infrastructure investment, though, once again, government corruption damages the inclusivity of the growth which is generated. All of these things are likely to enhance the capitalist conundrum rather than solve it.

Capitalism does lead to some unintended consequences. I am not one who believes that equality per se is necessarily a desirable objective; but poverty (in absolute terms) surely cannot be acceptable to any decent human being? Yet, a market economy built upon ethical principles can be the solution to many of these problems.

  • – Capitalism must take poverty seriously
  • – Corrupt government and excessive regulation damage inclusive growth
  • – Economic freedom means freedom of choice (we should not criticise the choice of a satellite dish)
  • – The encouragement of enterprise, employment and wage growth are essential to dealing with the infrastructure and housing problems

Capitalism generates conundrums. Long live capitalism. Oh, but take poverty seriously and let’s use our business and economic opportunities to help.

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Dr Richard Turnbull is the Director of the Centre for Enterprise, Markets & Ethics (CEME). For more information about Richard please click here.

VW makes the case for a moral capitalism

What a mess. Many of you won’t like my title – surely the catastrophic failures and deceits at VW make the case against rather than for capitalism? Not so and here is why.

At the root of the problem with VW is dishonesty. Now, of course, that dishonesty might have been driven by sales targets, or a brand identity to be the ‘greenest’ car manufacturer, but the essence of the problem is that somewhere in the mix VW and its management engaged in deception, a deception which is, of course, indefensible.

However, we do learn from this episode (which has yet to run its course) a few lessons which help make the case for a moral, entrepreneurial capitalism.

  • – Regulation failed

Surely not, I hear you say, it was the regulators who were deceived. Indeed they were, but they didn’t know about it. The discovery that VW was using underhand methods to pass emission testing was made by a not-for-profit, non-governmental organisation that put some vehicles to the test in order to gather evidence to persuade Europe to adopt the USA’s more stringent nitrous oxide limits. From this source the Environmental Protection Agency launched its own investigations.

I can see more regulators and more regulations emerging from this. But they didn’t work first time around – closing the stable door after the horse had bolted.

  • – The market will judge VW

Actually most people do want greener technology, not least in automobile engines. Indeed, a significant part of VW’s brand was that it was a market leader in the development of such technology. VW’s market share was driven by those that wanted both fuel efficiency and lower emissions. VW’s collapse of reputation will be severely damaging to its brand in the market place; and, indeed, as a publicly quoted company, to its share price (which has already wiped ‎€15 Bn off its market cap.). Not ultimately because of fines by regulators, but because its customers will lose confidence in the brand and especially in the green technology claims.

  • – Innovation in the car market will be encouraged

Manufacturers will need to develop ‘clean diesel’ technology, fuel efficient and greener engines, more investment in cheaper hybrids and electric vehicles. They will have to do so not because government says so, but because consumers want a better, greener, more environmentally responsible deal.

  • – The senior executive has been held publicly to account

Can you imagine if VW had been owned by the government? Ok, I know the state government of Lower Saxony has 20% of the voting rights, but if VW had been a state-owned, nationalised industry? Does anyone really imagine that the senior executive would be held to account? If the regulators are also the owners, then there is no incentive at all for transparency. Corporate structures are complex, as indeed is the situation when boards are not aware of what is being carried out in their name. However, the existence of a supervisory board, over and above the executive board, did at least provide a means for public contrition and the holding to account of the chief executive, but many not have known, but certainly carried the responsibility.

The problem is essentially a moral one; dishonesty.

Odd then really. A capitalist scandal makes the case for capitalism.

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Dr Richard Turnbull is the Director of the Centre for Enterprise, Markets & Ethics (CEME). For more information about Richard please click here.

Ethical business is good for society and for profit

Are values and profitability incompatible?


Values have taken a central role in the debate about how private companies ought to conduct business in the post-recession era.

The idea that businesses should go beyond the narrow measures of shareholder value maximization and embrace a wider role of a ‘responsible citizen’ that cares about the society it operates in, is certainly not a new one. The 16th to 18th centuries saw the Quakers establish household brands such as Barclays, Lloyds, Cadbury and Rowntree. They were successful precisely because ethical behavior and a deep understanding of their responsibilities were the foundation of how they conducted business. Far from hindering profit, these companies understood that responsible behavior actually increased profitability (for more on Quakers in business, please see here). In the post-recession era, the idea of a values driven company (whether encompassed within traditional models such as Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) or more recent development such as ‘B’ corporation certification) should therefore not be seen as simply an operational cost, or an add-on necessary only for PR purposes, but as a critical part of the long-term business plan.


But what exactly do we mean by Corporate Responsibility? Given the rather elusive nature of the concept we can easily find ourselves lost in the myriad of ideas that come to mind. However, CSR is effectively a management concept whereby companies integrate moral, social and environmental concerns in their business operations and interactions with stakeholders (adapted from the UN Industrial Development Organisation, 2015). By stakeholders we mean all actors that come into contact with the business itself, from internal stakeholders such as employees and owners, to external stakeholders such as customers, creditors, the government and so on. Ultimately, Corporate Social Responsibility is a business management strategy that holistically takes into account a company’s entire operational ecosystem.


From a more theoretical and rather traditional standpoint, one could argue that the odds are stacked against any significant CSR-related engagement. After all, it was Milton Friedman who famously claimed that “There is one and only one social responsibility of business — to use its resources and engage in activities designed to increase its profits so long as it stays within the rules of the game, which is to say, engages in open and free competition without deception or fraud.” (New York Times, 1970).


Most business schools around the world have adopted Friedman’s notions defining the purpose of enterprise solely in terms of ‘maximizing shareholder value’. We’ve heard this definition many times before and at least for the time being, it provides us with a clear purpose of what all private sector entities should ultimately be aiming for, i.e. making profit.


However, it is within this pursuit of profit that divisions begin to arise. The goal itself has an embedded sense of urgency that could (and has done in the past – prior to the financial crisis) compromise future returns in exchange for short-term gains. So at the very least the concern should be with long-term shareholder value. More importantly, how is shareholder value to be defined? Contrary to popular belief, Milton Friedman did believe that ‘CSR’-type expenditure such as local community investments, employee training or involvement in charitable activities are justifiable since they contribute to the long-run interests of a firm, whist also generating corporate goodwill (Hernandez-Murillo, 2014). It is therefore crucial that perception surrounding CSR or similar spending is changed from being seen as a cost, to an investment, a commitment to the medium and long-term goals of a company. Academics sometimes refer to this as ‘profit-maximising CSR’, whereby the firm’s ethically-driven activities are aligned with the firm’s self-interest (ibid). It ultimately leads to a win-win situation whereby both the firm, as well as the stakeholders gain from the strategy.



This leaves us with two questions that seek to answer CSR alignment on one hand, and real impact on the other. In other words: 1. Is the strategy aligned with the overall aims of the firm? And 2. Is it achieving the desired impact?


Nike, the shoe and sports clothing manufacturer is a perfect example of a CSR strategy that was not just limited to charitable donations or environmental issues, but was brilliantly in tune with the overall strategy of the firm.


Known as ‘NIKE +’, the company shifted its focus from promoting its products to helping its customers. “Instead of putting up another campaign of billboards with celebrities saying ‘buy our shoes’…NIKE + actually helps you become a better runner” (Levick, 2012). Through products such as the Nike FuelBand (a wristband which monitors your physical activity) and personalized customization through Nike iD, the firm is effectively trying to say “we care more about you and your personal fitness goals than we do about advertising our products”. This was a serious customer focused strategy which contributed – alongside the traditional CSR values type activity – to show the company strategically interested in aligning itself with the interests of its customers. Profitable too.


The result? Nike’s share price almost doubled over the last 24 months from $64 per share to $115 per share while its closes competitor Adidas, dropped from $84 to $64 over the same period of time. Of course, one could argue that there are other contributing factors to the success of Nike and apparent decline of Adidas, but the commitment and focus on a morally-guided strategy of placing the customer’s interests first have clearly paid off.


Values, corporate responsibility and profitability are not juxtaposed as alternatives – they are two parts of the whole. A concept such as CSR and its wide-ranging type of activities and approach to business should therefore not be seen as a cost, but a crucial part of the long-term business plan. As a strategy that holistically takes into account the entire business ecosystem and if aligned correctly, it can produce tremendous results indeed.


Andrei Rogobete

Andrei Rogobete is a Research Fellow with the Centre for Enterprise, Markets & Ethics. For more information about Andrei please click here.


Tax and morality

Is the purpose of taxation payment for common services (defence, health, welfare) or a tool for the redistribution of wealth? That decision, and the balance between them, is a political one. However, there is nothing intrinsically moral about either high or progressive taxation. First, higher rates of taxation may not raise more revenue (the argument would be about the precise positioning on the Laffer Curve). Second, an extra pound raised for the government means a pound less at the disposal of individuals and families or for philanthropic activities. There is no greater morality attached to a government pound than a pound used in support of family life or philanthropic cause. If such spending encourages enterprise, reduces reliance on the state and achieves social purposes effectively and efficiently, then the moral imperative is to reduce taxation.

What about the collection of the tax that is due? There is an absolute moral obligation to comply with the rule of law (in a free, democratic society) including the payment of tax. How much tax should a person pay? Answer – the amount determined by the laws established by the legislature. The UK tax code is complex and lengthy with numerous provisions, allowances, schemes, exemptions, compliance requirements, elections and claims to be made. An individual or corporation who complies with these requirements cannot be said in any way to be acting either illegally or immorally. If Parliament wishes to change the tax legislation then that is precisely what they must do. Legislators legislate. Politicians should be very wary indeed of criticising those who comply with what they have passed into law.

Are there any limits? Yes, there are. It has been long established that artificial transactions or structures with the sole purpose of avoiding tax are irresponsible. HMRC possesses considerable powers to deal with such transactions. Indeed, given that, we should be wary of giving more powers to the tax authorities to pursue taxpayers complying with their legal obligations. High taxation and progressive taxation are not intrinsically moral. There is a balance in society between the rights of individuals to plan their affairs to minimise their tax liabilities, the laws passed by the legislature and the powers of the executive arm (HMRC) to enforce. The current rather sanctimonious debate around taxation has the danger of destabilising this balance by increasing the power of the executive, getting the legislature off the hook for lack of clarity and to the damage of individuals, families and society.

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Dr Richard Turnbull is the Director of the Centre for Enterprise, Markets & Ethics (CEME).

The market and morality

The market economy is not perfect. However, we do sometimes forget that it is the market that has delivered significant prosperity to the world and lifted millions of people out of poverty. Improvements in literacy and sanitation have contributed to a significant reduction in the number of people existing on the benchmark measurement of $1 a day. Enterprise, trade, micro-credit and social venture capital are, however, foundational to a global reduction in poverty. This reminds us that there is a moral case to be made for the market.

Capitalism is built upon four moral principles. These principles are rooted in the Judeo-Christian tradition upon which a market based enterprise economy is constructed.

First, the principle of creativity. This idea is expressed through the creation of wealth and the flourishing of human creative skill. Wealth creation is about the harnessing of human capital, skills and innovation to add value to the productive capacity of the economy. So, the combining of raw materials to make goods for sale, the delivery of services, entrepreneurial skill in developing and applying new ideas lie at the heart of enterprise. Wealth creation has to precede the debate on distribution.

Second, the principle of responsibility. Encouraging dependency denies the essence of humanity. Human flourishing means recognising humanity’s uniqueness and capacity for innovation and learning.

Third, the principle of freedom. Free human expression is only possible within a context of both economic and political freedom. That is one reason why Marxist command economies don’t work. It is also why excessive economic control constrains enterprise and innovation. Entrepreneurial skill and risk needs recognition and reward.

Fourth, the principle of fairness. The fairness of the capitalist system stems from the fact that the market allocates goods and services fairly and efficiently between willing buyers and sellers at agreed prices. Excessive levels of taxation in this respect are intrinsically unfair.

The market economy also generates moral problems. Issues of greed, excess, monopoly and oligopoly mean that there is a proper place for regulation. However, because we seem to have lost sight of the intellectual case for the market, regulation and taxation seem to have become ends in themselves, rather than as means or tools to act as moral restraints in an essentially free economy in a free society.

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Dr Richard Turnbull is the Director of the Centre for Enterprise, Markets & Ethics (CEME). For more information about Richard please click here.

Newsletter – Summer 2014

A message from the Director,

Quaker Capitalism and virtuous companies

I am fRichard%20Turnbullweb#1# (2)ascinated that in the early years of the industrial revolution some of the great businesses were established by Quakers – not least the first iron foundry established by Abraham Darby.

There were many others, Cadbury, Rowntree, Clarks’ Shoes, Barclays and Lloyds. Why was this so? The answer lies in some combination of moral integrity, culture, networks and spiritual commitment or purpose. I am not suggesting we all become Quakers but rather that there are lessons, both commercial and moral, which we could usefully learn. Later this year we will hold a day conference on this subject, considering the lessons for today, including debate around trust and corporate structure – join the mailing list, contact the office or watch the website for details!

Too often in our debates about enterprise, ethics and society we use ‘binary’ terms. So, for example, ‘profit’ is set up against ‘people’ or ‘competition’ against ‘fairness.’ However, these dichotomies (capital versus labour is another one) are invariably simplistic. Profit may also enable people to flourish, through the provision of goods and services as well as employment. Competition may increase fairness by allocating resources for consumers at lower prices and ensuring efficient production. The impact of enterprise in an economy cannot not be reduced to an ‘either-or’ but affects many people and their livelihoods, from entrepreneurs to consumers. The encouragement of enterprise is essential especially through what is usually termed the ‘supply-side’ of the economy. This means a fair reward for the entrepreneurs who take risks, encouragements to invest and to employ and taxation regimes that incentivise.

From an ethical perspective however the responsibilities extend more widely. Companies, large and small, have a significant impact on wider society. Do virtuous companies exist or just virtuous individuals? A virtuous enterprise might be described as one which not only behaves well or acts properly but which acknowledges and acts upon its wider role in society, even challenging that society itself in the direction of virtue. Companies and individual business people can have an enormous impact upon their local communities for the good. They can indeed act morally commercially, but also, through their actions they can, in a free economy and a free society, shape virtue itself, through service, philanthropy and example. However, to do so, they must be fashioned and led by moral individuals. Values are at the heart of both virtuous enterprises and individuals; the restoration of commercial trust will have direct commercial benefit but will also benefit society itself.

Research, publications, events

We are committed to a research agenda to think deeply about business, ethics and responsibility. As well as other
events on this page the future focus includes:

– A CEME publication on Quakers in Business.

– Autumn events (and publications) in London on the Social Value of Capital Markets and The contribution of Catholic thinking on the market.

– A Conference in London on Quaker Capitalism: lessons for today.

– Plans for a conference in 2015 on ‘Capitalism in the 21st Century’.


Restoring Ethics to Banking

We were joined, in January, by civic guests including the Lord Lieutenant for Oxfordshire and the Thames Valley Police Commissioner, together with over a hundred civic, university and business guests at Harris Manchester College to hear the Chief Executive of Barclays, Antony Jenkins, outline his vision for the restoration of trust. Antony detailed the challenge faced by Barclays, the problems of transforming the culture in an authentic way in such a large institution as well as genuine issues the bank still faces. Antony noted the importance of being a steward of the original vision of the bank’s Quaker founders. There followed an extensive time for questions – many topics from remuneration to lending to small businesses were covered – then dinner and a short response and vote of thanks from the Bishop of Oxford.

To view our latest research please click here.


Enterprise not Aid?

How can private equity and social venture capital be effectively harnessed in economic development? Dr Kim Tan will explore whether this approach is more effective than inter-government aid. Professor Alex Nicholls of the Said Business School and Penny Fowler of Oxfam will respond.

25th June 2014, Said Business School Oxford from 6pm. Places limited. Email office@theceme.org for invitation.

To view our latest Events and Picture Gallery click here.


The Ethics of Usury

A seminar in London heard the Revd Dr Ben Cooper reflect upon the teaching of the Old Testament on the charging of interest. He argued that in order to assist the poor it was not only permissible but essential to charge interest on loans particularly for investment rather than consumption. The availability of credit and wealth creation is essential to the relief of poverty.


Lord Shaftesbury: radical conservative? Lessons for social welfare today

A talk by the Director, sponsored by CCLA Investment Management Limited.

12th June 2014, 4.30pm – 7pm, London. Email office@theceme.org for details.


How can you help us?

We aim to both educate and transform. We seek to change opinion and make a practical difference. Our passion is for an effective, enterprise economy shaped by ethical values so that the world can be a better place.

We are an independent Centre, and rely entirely upon donations to fund our work.

In the UK donations can be sent payable to the Centre for Enterprise, Markets and Ethics, 31, Beaumont Street, Oxford OX1 2NP. We will supply a Gift Aid form and higher rate taxpayers can claim further relief via their tax returns

US citizens can send donations, payable to CAF America, for the benefit of ‘The Centre for Enterprise, Markets and Ethics’ (‘the CEME Fund’) to CAFAmerica, 1800 Diagonal Road, Suite 150, Alexandria, VA 22314 with the donor advice available from www.theceme.org or office@theceme.org. This is tax deductible.

Please advise us of any donation so we can thank you promptly and properly.

To sign-up to our Newsletter please click here or to download a .pdf version click here.