The Changing Face of the Company: Time for Another Change?

Programme Details

Dr Surya Deva | Law

Dr Surya DevaDr Surya Deva is an Associate Professor at the School of Law of City University of Hong Kong.  He holds BA (Hons.), LLB and LLM degrees from the University of Delhi and a PhD from the University of Sydney, and has taught previously at the Faculty of Law, University of Delhi and at the National Law Institute University, Bhopal.  Dr Deva’s primary research interests lie in Corporate Social Responsibility, Indo-Chinese Constitutional Law, International Human Rights, Globalisation, and Sustainable Development.  He has published numerous book chapters and journal articles in these areas.  His book entitled Corporate Human Rights Violations: Overcoming Regulatory Hurdles will be published by Routledge in late 2011.  In 2009, the International Commission of Jurists had commissioned Dr Deva to prepare a report on Access to Justice: Human Rights Abuses Involving Corporations – The Peoples’ Republic of China.  He is member of a Research Team that was awarded a competitive grant in 2010 by the Norwegian Research Council on “Sustainable Companies: How to Make Companies Contribute Effectively to Mitigate Climate Change?” Dr Deva is also the Faculty Editor of the City University of Hong Kong Law Review.


This talk will trace the major transformations that have taken place in the institution of company over the last 400 years – from the British East India Company chartered in 1600 to the modern multinational companies of the 21st century.  It will then speculate the likely role and influence of companies in the society in 2050.  Should profit maximisation be the main purpose of an institution that will increasingly control all aspects of our lives, including the realisation of human rights and access to basic needs?  I will argue that in view of multiple changes that have taken place in the institution of the company, we should either realign the purpose of the company or conceptualise ‘profit’ to include non-monetary social goods.  Doing so would be necessary for the survival of both humanity and the company.