Purpose led, but driven by performance

24. February 2022

Lars Huemer

Listen to podcast - How can companies balance purpose and profit?

In this episode of Stay Ahead you will hear Helge Lund, Chairman at BP and Novo Nordisk and Professor Lars Huemer reflect upon the increasing expectation of purpose driven business.  

What is the purpose of a business?  

In recent years we have seen big shifts in how business is understood, taught and done.  
For several decades the purpose of a company was dominated by the Friedman doctrine. The idea that business’ only responsibility is to increase its profits. The Friedman era has created wealth for a period of time but it also contributed to several of the societal issues of today.  
In recent decades the trust in business has collapsed. Our environment and climate has been harmed and inequality has grown.  

Turn of the tide 

Today, businesses tend to think differently and it appears that we are at a turning point. There is a growing view that profit and purpose shouldn’t conflict but instead they can be complimentary.  
It is crucial that businesses recognize that over time profit and purpose are mutually reinforcing and one enables the other.  

Listen to the episode and you will also learn about: 

  • How BP turned its business operation around and aligned an impactful purpose with profitable execution?  
  • How can competitive strategy and seeking a higher purpose co-exist?  
  • What is the role of trust in the narrative of profit and purpose? 

Helge Lund

Helge Lund is the Chairman at BP and Novo Nordisk. Helge was a chief executive of BG Group when it merged with Shell, and served as top leader in other large energy and industrial companies.

Lars Huemer

Lars Huemer is a Professor in Strategy and Entrepreneurship and specializes in research on cooperative strategy, value creation, networks, and trust. He is also the Dean for the executive energy master program.

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