The Political Preferences of Diversified Business Groups: Lessons from Colombia (1994-1998)
The article discusses the political preferences of diversified business groups - or economic groups (EGs) - based on a case study of business political behavior in Colombia. EGs are groups of firms held together through 'interlocking directorates, holding companies, crossfinancing, and often continued family ownership', which dominate significant portions of the Latin American economies. The Colombian EGs supported president Ernesto Samper (1994-1998) amidst accusations that his campaign had been funded by drug traffickers, despite the prospect of U.S. sanctions and economic recession. The article suggests that a crucial factor shaping EG political preferences was their relationship of mutual dependence with the Colombian state, which is based on contracts, credit, and regulation. In contrast to expectations that privatization policies associated with the 1990s' economic reforms would weaken the business-state relationship, this case shows that these ties have been strengthened, making EGs stand out as winners of the reform process.
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