The Ownership Project at Oxford Saïd
The future of ownership
An estimated 70% of global businesses are family-owned. Our research, teaching, and global conversations bring responsibility and sustainability to their core.
How do family businesses become resilient for the future?
Responsible ownership is the future of family businesses. A fairer, stronger, more innovative economy calls for new frameworks for large asset owners – including family businesses. Families steering some of the biggest companies in the world control specific tools to benefit people and the planet, including concentrated ownership, investment vehicles, and philanthropic platforms. These enable family owners to steward their business responsibly, making sure it is sustainable in the long-term. Owners have the potential of becoming powerful catalysts for change by setting their vision of the future as the guiding principle for their business.
The Ownership Project provides a platform for knowledge generation and dissemination. We seek to empirically understand the impact of ownership on businesses, communities, and society — and the key factors shaping sustainable ownership in the future.
It is not how we spend money but how we make it that matters most. Business can be a force for good, as long as its purpose is not merely to make money but to serve the community and satisfy societal needs sustainably.
Our research expertise is drawn from finance, economics, anthropology and social impact.
- Mary Johnstone-Louis, Senior Research Fellow and Programme Director
- Peter Tufano, Peter Moores Professor of Finance
- Colin Mayer CBE FBA, Emeritus Professor
- Bridget Kustin, Research Fellow and Qualitative Lead
- Belén Villalonga, Professor of Management and Organizations, NYU's Stern School of Business, Associate Scholar, Saïd Business School
- Madeline Asta, Research Assistant
- Yuezhou Yang, Research Assistant
- Anna Tervahartiala, Head of Communications, CSP Zurich, External Consultant, The Ownership Project at Oxford Saïd
We deliver independent analysis of the impact of ownership on business, society and the environment
- Examining ownership for influence and impact
- How owners influence their businesses
- How these businesses in turn impact society.
Key research questions:
- How can long-term corporate commitments be governed effectively?
- How can ownership and governance lock in corporate commitment to fulfil purpose beyond profit maximisation?
- What role can owners play in responding to longer-term and emerging systemic risks?
- What is the level of continuity across owners’ platforms eg philanthropy, investments, and core business(es)?
- How do owners secure support for these arrangements from decision-makers including board members, senior management, and other shareholders?
Our Family Advisory Council helps us translate our research insights into practical tools for business owners.
Family Advisory Council
Family business leaders bringing research into practice
Number of employees
$BN USD in revenue/AUM
Our Family Advisory Council brings senior owners from family enterprises from across the globe together to establish pathways towards responsible ownership.
The Council meets as a group and in regular one-to-one sessions with our researchers. The role of the Council is to test our ideas and ensure that our insights are disseminated to the people holding the levers enabling change.
This is possibly the only place where I have found the topic of the long-term purpose of ownership to be regularly tackled. To be a part of this discussion at a time when companies are so challenged is very positive.
*Participation in our research, teaching, or convening does not imply our endorsement of any particular individual or group.