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The political activities of American corporate leaders


  • Nownes Anthony J.


  • Aitalieva Nurgul R.

    (Department of Political Science, University of Tennessee, Knoxville, TN 37996, USA)


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.

Suggested Citation

  • Nownes Anthony J. & Aitalieva Nurgul R., 2013. "The political activities of American corporate leaders," Business and Politics, De Gruyter, vol. 15(4), pages 493-527, December.
  • Handle: RePEc:bpj:buspol:v:15:y:2013:i:4:p:493-527:n:2

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    References listed on IDEAS

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    7. Schuler, Douglas A. & Rehbein, Kathleen, 2011. "Determinants of Access to Legislative and Executive Branch Officials: Business Firms and Trade Policymaking in the U.S," Business and Politics, Cambridge University Press, vol. 13(03), pages 1-30, October.
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