KBS Professor Yannis Georgellis on well-being as business purpose at the OECD Conference in Paris

Is happiness a good business strategy? Should we move away from creating shareholder value towards creating shareholder well-being?

These were central questions Professor Yannis Georgellis of Kent Business School discussed in his academic keynote talk on “Well-Being as Objective Function for Business Purpose” in November at the OECD Conference in Paris.

Joined by other speakers including Jane Burgess (Partners’ Counsellor, John Lewis Partnership), Peter Choueiri (President at Healthways International), and Marcello Palazzi (Co-founder of B-Lab), Professor Georgellis presented his case for employee happiness as a business model before leading management practitioners, policy makers and academics.

Professor Georgellis, Director of Research and Professor of Management at Kent Business School commented, “We have come a long way since the days when it was commonly accepted that a business’s sole purpose was to generate profits. We are now ready to accept that firms are willing to sacrifice some profit in order to keep all their stakeholders happy.  The question we need to ask is how much profit are we willing to give up for the benefit of all stakeholders, internal and external? Perhaps an even more provocative question is whether we should stop focusing on profit maximisation as a business model altogether and start focusing instead on employee happiness and well-being as a business purpose. As ludicrous as this suggestion may sound, there is mounting evidence that firms that put their employees first tend to outperform their competitors.”

The OECD and the Humanistic Management Network jointly organised the conference to examine whether the well-being of stakeholders can become an alternative business purpose. The conference started with a welcome address from Paul Schreyer, Deputy Director, Statistics Directorate, OECD and included three keynote speeches, three panel discussions and a World Café break out session with all participants. The conference was sponsored partially by the Society for the Advancement of Management Studies (SAMS).

For further information on the conference or on well-being and business, contact Professor Georgellis on Y.Georgellis@kent.ac.uk

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