Title

The Political Activities of American Corporate Leaders

Document Type

Article

Publication Date

Winter 12-2013

Publication Source

Business and Politics

Volume

15

Issue

4

Inclusive pages

493–527

DOI

10.1515/bap-2012-0048

ISBN/ISSN

(Online) 1469-3569 (Print) 1369-5258

Peer Reviewed

yes

Abstract

What is the nature and extent of corporate leader involvement in American national politics? The results of a mail survey of nearly 100 such individuals show that leaders are quite active, devoting an average of nearly 1 hour per day to national political activity. We also show that corporate leaders engage in a wide range of advocacy activities. Monetary activities loom particularly large in the political lives of American corporate leaders, as large numbers are approached by members of Congress for contributions, and many who are approached answer the call. In addition, we find that corporate leaders, unlike advocacy professionals, do a great deal of their advocacy work in private; for the most part they eschew public activities such as testifying before congressional committees. Speaking to the question of which leaders are most politically active, our data evince a strong relationship between firm political activity and firm leader political activity. In sum, politically active firms have politically active leaders. We thus contribute to the ongoing academic discussion of corporate political activity by showing that the CEO’s office is an additional locus of political power within business firms, and that CEO political activity is instrumental rather than consumptive in nature.

Disciplines

American Politics | Political Science | Public Affairs, Public Policy and Public Administration

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