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Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)
Year Degree Awarded
Month Degree Awarded
Raymond J. La Raja
Bruce A. Desmarais
Brian F. Schaffner
American Politics | Models and Methods
Scholars have long looked at business as a source of political power, but have come to differing conclusions about how corporations behave in pursuit of interests. Building on organizational theory and conditional choice literature, I hypothesize that corporations react to the actions of those around them, leading to cooperation and coordination. While others point to the importance of social ties created through corporate board memberships, I locate an additional social tie that takes place through trade association memberships. In addition, I demonstrate that rather than fragmenting in recent years, business has in fact become more cohesive in their giving patterns.
Using data from the 1990-2012 United States House of Representatives elections and lobbying expenditure, along with a survey of corporate executives, and employing community detection and network autocorrelation, I demonstrate that corporations have become more closely aligned in their political giving, and further, that common trade association membership is a significant predictor of corporate political activity.
Kowal, Michael, "The Social Corporation: Firms, Networks, and Politics" (2016). Doctoral Dissertations. 653.