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Businessman Candidates: Special-Interest Politics in Weakly Institutionalized Environments

  • Scott Gehlbach

    ()

  • Konstantin Sonin

    ()

We initiate examination of the political boundaries of the firm by exploring the phenomenon of “businessman candidates”: business owners and managers who bypass conventional means of political influence to run for public office themselves. We argue that in-house production of political influence will be more likely in institutional environments where candidates find it difficult to make binding campaign promises. When campaign promises are binding, then a businessman may always pay a professional politician to run on the platform that political competition would otherwise compel the businessman to adopt. In contrast, when commitment to a campaign platform is impossible, then candidate identity matters for the policies that will be adopted ex post, implying that a businessman may choose to run for office if the stakes are sufficiently large. We illustrate our arguments through discussion of gubernatorial elections in postcommunist Russia, where businessmen frequently run for public office, institutions to encourage elected officials to keep their campaign promises are weak, and competition for rents is intense.

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Paper provided by William Davidson Institute at the University of Michigan in its series William Davidson Institute Working Papers Series with number wp733.

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Length: pages
Date of creation: 01 Dec 2004
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Handle: RePEc:wdi:papers:2005-733
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  1. Grossman, Sanford J. & Hart, Oliver D., 1986. "The Costs and Benefits of Ownership: A Theory of Vertical and Lateral Integration," Scholarly Articles 3450060, Harvard University Department of Economics.
  2. Alberto Alesina & Stephen E. Spear, 1987. "An Overlapping Generations Model of Electoral Competition," NBER Working Papers 2354, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
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  10. Gene Grossman & Elhanan Helpman, 1994. "Electoral Competition and Special Interest Politics," NBER Working Papers 4877, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
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  12. Martin J. Osborne & Al Slivinksi, 1995. "A Model of Political Competition with Citizen-Candidates," Department of Economics Working Papers 1995-01, McMaster University.
  13. Grossman, Gene M & Helpman, Elhanan, 1995. "The Politics of Free-Trade Agreements," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 85(4), pages 667-90, September.
  14. Bernheim, B Douglas & Whinston, Michael D, 1986. "Menu Auctions, Resource Allocation, and Economic Influence," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 101(1), pages 1-31, February.
  15. Daron Acemoglu & James A. Robinson, 2000. "Why Did The West Extend The Franchise? Democracy, Inequality, And Growth In Historical Perspective," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 115(4), pages 1167-1199, November.
  16. Witold J. Henisz & Edward D. Mansfield, 2004. "Votes and Vetoes: The Political Determinants of Commercial Openness," William Davidson Institute Working Papers Series 2004-712, William Davidson Institute at the University of Michigan.
  17. Klein, Benjamin & Crawford, Robert G & Alchian, Armen A, 1978. "Vertical Integration, Appropriable Rents, and the Competitive Contracting Process," Journal of Law and Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 21(2), pages 297-326, October.
  18. Martin J. Osborne, 1995. "Spatial Models of Political Competition under Plurality Rule: A Survey of Some Explanations of the Number of Candidates and the Positions They Take," Canadian Journal of Economics, Canadian Economics Association, vol. 28(2), pages 261-301, May.
  19. Besley, Timothy & Coate, Stephen, 2001. "Lobbying and Welfare in a Representative Democracy," Review of Economic Studies, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 68(1), pages 67-82, January.
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