Prosperity Book Summary - Prosperity Book explained in key points
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Prosperity summary

Colin Mayer

Better Business Makes the Greater Good

4.1 (150 ratings)
16 mins

Brief summary

Prosperity by Colin Mayer explores the urgent need for a new approach to capitalism that values more than just profit and focuses on creating sustainable prosperity for all stakeholders including the environment, society, and future generations.
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    It’s time for a new business paradigm

    Each year, thousands of future company directors begin the next stage of their professional journey – obtaining their MBA. During that first semester of study, they learn about the Friedman doctrine, named after American economist and statistician Milton Friedman. Over 50 years ago, Friedman’s book Capitalism and Freedom presented a concept that not only formed the foundation of business education for the past half-century, but has also defined business practice and influenced government policies on a global level. 

    This concept states that the sole social responsibility of business is to increase its profits, within the scope of the law. And this is what those future corporate directors are taught – that every decision they make should help generate profits for shareholders. This sentiment is so deeply ingrained that it’s viewed as a natural law – something as innate and unchangeable as gravity.

    Following Friedman’s doctrine has undeniably resulted in many benefits. Some corporate shareholders have made huge amounts of money and stimulated the economy. And in the course of doing so, their businesses have provided communities with employment – as well as housing, food, entertainment, and services that make life easier or support our well-being.

    But at the same time, following this doctrine has caused immense damage. It has – and continues to – decimate natural resources and harm the planet while increasing inequality and deprivation. Business reporting rarely accounts for this damage. In keeping with Friedman’s doctrine, what matters are financial and material assets – the assets that make money.

    Although corporations believe they’re only answerable to shareholders, their decisions affect the well-being of whole communities and ecosystems. That means they should be accountable to those communities and the environment. But to achieve this, the business world will need to replace its old paradigm with a new mindset – one that repositions corporations and their role in society.

    Imagine what the world would look like if, as part of their everyday activities, businesses focused on doing good as well as making profits for shareholders. That might sound wildly idealistic, but the reality is that humans invented and adopted Friedman’s doctrine. So why can’t we create a new model that harnesses the good while mitigating the bad?

    Businesses have the potential to make significant positive change in the world. They just need to redefine what “success” actually looks like. But before we explore ways to achieve that, let’s look at how we got here in the first place.

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    What is Prosperity about?

    Prosperity (2018) examines how business thinking has led to our current state of social, political, and environmental disaster. Drawing on historical, legal, and economic knowledge, it presents a radical new framework in which both corporations and the broader community can flourish together.

    Prosperity Review

    Prosperity (2021) by Colin Mayer is a thought-provoking exploration of the economic system and its impact on society. Here's why this book is worth reading:

    • It offers thoughtful insights into the problems facing capitalism today and proposes solutions that prioritize the well-being of people and the planet.
    • By examining the relationship between business, finance, and society, the book provides a holistic perspective on the importance of redefining success in economic terms.
    • With its accessible language and well-researched arguments, the book presents a compelling case for a new approach to prosperity that goes beyond financial gain.

    Who should read Prosperity?

    • Business leaders and company directors
    • MBA students
    • Economic policy developers wanting to fix our broken system

    About the Author

    Colin Mayer is a business expert and professor at the University of Oxford. For over 20 years, he was a director and chairman of Oxera – one of the largest economic consultancies in Europe. He is the author and coauthor of several books, and was the founding editor of the Oxford Review of Economic Policy

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    Prosperity FAQs 

    What is the main message of Prosperity?

    The main message of Prosperity is that economic systems should serve the needs of society as a whole.

    How long does it take to read Prosperity?

    The reading time for Prosperity varies depending on the reader, but it typically takes a few hours. The Blinkist summary can be read in just 15 minutes.

    Is Prosperity a good book? Is it worth reading?

    Prosperity is a valuable read for anyone interested in the role of business in society. It provides thought-provoking insights and practical solutions.

    Who is the author of Prosperity?

    Colin Mayer is the author of Prosperity.

    What to read after Prosperity?

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