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.
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.
The Structure of Corporate Political Action is an important contribution to the flourishing field of business research, trailblazing on many counts and exemplary in its analytic carefulness and sophistication and in the clarity with which the author communicates his research findings. In examining the effects on corporate political agreement of common stock ownership and market constraint, in exploring the determinants of congressional testimony, and, most important, in his careful examination of the structural bases of political agreement and cooperation among business enterprises, the author advances significantly our understanding of the role of the corporation in American politics, while at the same time extending structural analysis in exciting new directions.
We are not likely to get as careful, thoughtful, and thorough an examination of business unity for a long time to come. This is the most significant behavioral data that we have on the topic, and it shows that unity exists and is important for politics.
Corporate political action remains one of the primary fuels of American politics. Mark Mizruchi assays its chemistry with impressive dexterity. Drawing on detailed analysis of PAC contributions to candidates for Congress and corporate testimony before Congress, Mizruchi offers new answers to the enduring questions: Are company political actions driven by market or managerial interests? Is business politically unified or divided? For fresh insights into how American business enters the political fray, The Structure of Corporate Political Action is required reading.
- 304 pages
- 6-1/8 x 9-1/4 inches
- Harvard University Press
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