Capitalism still works but needs regulation in order to succeed, Sir Mark Moody Stuart, the former chairman of Shell, has said at a lecture at Plymouth University.
Sir Mark delivered the third in a series of lectures organised by the university's Business School last week.
Called Beyond Capitalism?, the series aims to examine the strengths of weaknesses of capitalism as well as considering future economic models.
Previous speakers have included environmentalist Tony Juniper, who focused on the need for a sustainable economic model, and union leader Mark Serwotka, who called for a greater focus on the fair distribution of wealth in society.
Sir Mark, currently chairman of Hermes Equity Ownership Services, was chairman of the Royal Dutch/Shell Group from 1998 to 2001 and chairman of mining giant Anglo American plc from 2002 to 2009.
He described himself as an "unashamed capitalist" but argued that markets should not be given an entirely free rein.
"Markets have their drawbacks – they need regulation. Even the most enthusiastic US corporate enthusiast will admit that they need regulation. Markets on their own will not deliver some of the things that society needs," said Sir Mark.
He added: "We need frameworks to channel the creativity of markets in the right direction."
Drawing on his experience of working in countries including Oman, Brunei, Nigeria, Turkey and Malaysia, Sir Mark said that economic growth often increased the divide between the wealthiest and poorest members of a society, asking: "Is inequality an inevitable by product of capitalism and a market economy?"
Sir Mark considered some of the formal – and informal – methods of regulation that currently exist, including the public outrage that has greeted news of bankers' bonuses and the role of shareholders in determining remuneration levels.
He called for a regulatory focus on objectives rather than specific methodologies and said that business and society needed to work together to establish these parameters.