Off-campus UMass Amherst users: To download campus access dissertations, please use the following link to log into our proxy server with your UMass Amherst user name and password.

Non-UMass Amherst users: Please talk to your librarian about requesting this dissertation through interlibrary loan.

Dissertations that have an embargo placed on them will not be available to anyone until the embargo expires.

Author ORCID Identifier



Open Access Dissertation

Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Degree Program

Political Science

Year Degree Awarded


Month Degree Awarded


First Advisor

Raymond J. La Raja

Second Advisor

Bruce A. Desmarais

Third Advisor

Brian F. Schaffner

Fourth Advisor

Thomas Moliterno

Subject Categories

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.