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The Structure of Corporate Political Action

The Structure of Corporate Political Action

Interfirm Relations and Their Consequences

Mark S. Mizruchi

ISBN 9780674843776

Publication date: 03/01/1992

Are large American corporations politically unified or divided? This question, which has important implications for the viability of American democracy, has frustrated social scientists and political commentators for decades. Despite years of increasingly sophisticated research, resolution of the issue remains as elusive as ever.

In this important book, Mark S. Mizruchi presents and tests an original model of corporate political behavior. He argues that because the business community is characterized by both unity and conflict, the key issue is not whether business is unified but the conditions under which unity or conflict occurs.

Adopting a structural model of social action, Mizruchi examines the effects of factors such as geographic proximity, common industry membership, stock ownership, interlocking directorates, and interfirm market relations on the extent to which firms behave similarly. The model is tested with data on the campaign contributions of corporate political action committees and corporate testimony before Congress. Mizruchi finds that both organizational and social network factors contribute to similar behavior and that similar behavior increases a group's likelihood of political success.

This study demonstrates that rather than making their political decisions in a vacuum, firms are influenced by the social structures within which they are embedded. The results establish for the first time that the nature of relations between firms has real political consequences.

Praise

  • The dispute over power structure between elite and pluralist approaches was never resolved; it was simply exhausted. Mark Mizruchi’s book will bring it back to life, not only with a new burst of energy but at a much higher level of discourse. The book combines methodological strength and a lively style; it is rigorous without losing relevance, methodologically sophisticated without losing the interest of the humanist. No sociologist or political scientist will be able to take it lightly.

    —Theodore J. Lowi, Cornell University

Author

  • Mark S. Mizruchi is Robert Cooley Angell Collegiate Professor of Sociology, Barger Family Professor of Organizational Studies, and Professor of Business Administration at the University of Michigan.

Book Details

  • 304 pages
  • 6-1/8 x 9-1/4 inches
  • Harvard University Press

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