Predictions for Business & Society in 2021
The Aspen Institute
13. Business will continue to undermine democracy
Multiple crises in 2020 exacerbated the sense that our global economy and our democracies are fragile and unjust. Corporations have contributed to the breakdown of trust in the system by undermining and corrupting governments, spending enormous resources to expand corporate legal rights excessively, and to distort elections, policymaking, law enforcement, and citizens’ ability to hold power to account. Declarations such as the 2020 Davos Manifesto that “the purpose of a company is to engage all its stakeholders in shared and sustained value creation” have not been accompanied by meaningful change in these harmful practices. To determine whether business is truly addressing the crises exposed in 2020, look for clear evidence that corporate leaders no longer seek to undermine key democratic processes and institutions and that the system produces fairer and more trustworthy outcomes. I expect little actual movement in this direction but I hope this prediction is wrong.
—Anat R. Admati, professor of finance and economics, Stanford Graduate School of Business
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