Corporate Political Agency: The Construction of Competition in Public Affairs


Edited by: Barry M. Mitnick

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    For Margy


    View Copyright Page


    This book began with a suggestion by Jim Post to think about writing a review of the literature on corporate political activity (a task not done here), and an invitation by John Mahon to contribute a paper on Edwin Epstein's The Corporation in American Politics to a symposium on Epstein's work at the Academy of Management annual meeting (a paper now included within a longer chapter in this volume). With principals such as these, it was hard not to try to be a perfect agent. Readers of agency theory know, of course, that perfect agency is rare. I am sure that applies here as well.

    It occurred to me that some published and unpublished work I had done would fit nicely with some other research I had seen recently by others, including three who were or had recently been in our business environment and public policy group at Pittsburgh. Indeed, organizing work around the concepts of creating agency, competition among political agents, and the design of political agency seemed like a fruitful way to develop new insights about corporate political activity. And so the project evolved.

    I have learned much from the contributors to this volume; they have proved nearly perfect agents for me. I am grateful for the assistance they have given me in assembling this collection.

    I have also benefited from the assistance of a number of graduate research assistants over the years in which my sections of the book were written and revised. Most recently, these have included Mark Cordano, Martin Lewison, William Martello, William Oberman, and Curt Worden.

    My editor at Sage Publications, Harry Briggs, was continually supportive and patient; he knows that carrots work better than sticks.

    The staff at Sage, including Astrid Virding in Production and Kristin Bergstad as copy editor, converted manuscript to book with enormous care.

    I am grateful for the support of the Katz Graduate School of Business at the University of Pittsburgh for the preparation of the figures by the University's Graphics Services office.

    My secretary, Linda Wilson, did a heroic and painstaking job in typing and assembling countless chapter drafts and odd pieces of paper. Her help was invaluable in converting this physically fragmented work into a coherent whole.

    I can give no thank you more than to Jenny, Jeff, Michael, and especially to my wife, Margy. They are my principals.

  • About the Contributors

    Barry D. Baysinger is Professor of Management at Texas A&M University. He received his doctorate in Economics in 1978 from the Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University. His current research interests include organizational economics, organization theory, the management of innovation, and risk-taking in the context of multi-product firms. His research has appeared in such publications as the Academy of Management Review; Strategic Management Journal; Academy of Management Journal; Journal of Law and Economics; Business Horizons; and the Sloan Management Review.

    Ernest J. Englander is Associate Professor of Business and Public Policy at The George Washington University. He received his Ph.D. from the University of Washington (Seattle). His articles have appeared in Journal of Economic Behavior and Organization; Business History Review; Labor History; Research in Corporate Social Performance and Policy; and Business and Economic History. His most recent work on corporate takeovers and restructuring American capitalism (with Allen M. Kaufman) examines how Kohlberg Kravis Roberts and Co. (KKR) led the takeover movement of the 1980s by its ability to overcome the agency problems associated with public pension funds as institutional investors. His critique of transaction cost economics included an exchange with Oliver Williamson published in JEBO. He is currently working on a history of business-government relations in U.S. biotechnology with a particular focus on the pharmaceutical industry.

    Craig S. Fleisher is Associate Professor (Policy Area), and Director of the North American Public Affairs Research Group (NAPARG), School of Business and Economics, Wilfrid Laurier University, Waterloo, Ontario, Canada. He received his Ph.D. in business environment and public policy from the University of Pittsburgh. His teaching responsibilities are in strategic management and policy, business and public policy, and corporate public affairs. His research interests include the management of public affairs (PA), TQM, and the measurement and evaluation of corporate staff functions. He has published more than 25 articles and conducted seminars on PA evaluation, PA management, and related topics in journals and books in the United States, Canada, Europe, and Australia. He is an active member of the Public Affairs Association of Canada and also works closely with the Public Affairs Council (U.S.) with whom he is currently collaborating in researching the application of TQM techniques to PA.

    Kathleen A. Getz is Assistant Professor of Management and International Business at The American University, Washington, D.C. She earned a Ph.D. at the University of Pittsburgh. Her research interests are corporate political activity, international regulation, and global environmental issues. In addition to several conference paper presentations, she has had articles published in Journal of Business Ethics and Business in the Contemporary World and has co-authored chapters in edited volumes. Her chapter in this book is drawn largely from her doctoral dissertation, Selecting Corporate Political Tactics: The Montreal Protocol on Substances That Deplete the Ozone Layer, which received the 1991 Best Dissertation Award from the Social Issues in Management Division of the Academy of Management.

    Allen M. Kaufman is Associate Professor of Strategic Management and Chair of the Department of Management at the Whittemore School of Business and Economics, University of New Hampshire. He received his M.S. degree in business-government relations from Massachusetts Institute of Technology and his Ph.D. in history from Rutgers University. Currently, he is a Fellow at the Kennedy School of Government, Harvard University, where he is revising a manuscript on corporate regulation and management history, and is the principal investigator of the New Hampshire Industries Study Group at the Whittemore School.

    Gerald D. Keim is Professor of Management in the Graduate School of Business at Texas A&M University. His general research interest is the interaction between business and government in Western democracies with special interest in the effects of alternative institutional arrangements on the business-government interface and the management of business political activities. For the 1990–1991 academic year, he was a Senior Fulbright Professor in the Federal Republic of Germany. For the 1992–1993 academic year he is leading a USIA supported team to assist with management education in the Czech Republic. His research is published in management and political science journals. He teaches in the MBA core, is a regular lecturer at The Washington Campus in Washington, DC, and was a visiting professor at Stanford University. He is a frequent consultant for corporations and business associations in the public affairs and government relations area.

    John F. Mahon is Professor of Management Policy at the School of Management at Boston University. His research has concentrated on corporate political strategy and corporate strategies in regulated environments. He is the author or co-author of more than 60 articles, monographs, and cases in this area. He is also co-author of a textbook and teaching package in introductory management. He has won numerous awards for his teaching at both the school and national level. The most recent was the Prentice-Hall “Teaching Excellence” award presented at the Academy of Management in 1990. He is also a consultant and executive educator in numerous Fortune 500 firms on strategy, issues and stakeholder management, and political strategy.

    Alfred A. Marcus is Professor of Business, Government and Society in the Carlson School of Management, the University of Minnesota. He formerly taught at the University of Pittsburgh Graduate School of Business and as an adjunct professor at the University of Washington Graduate School of Business. His Ph.D. is from Harvard (1977) in political science. He has an undergraduate degree in history from the University of Chicago and received a master's degree from the University of Chicago in political philosophy. From 1979 to 1984 he worked at the Battelle Human Affairs Research Centers in Seattle. He has written a recent text, Business and Society—Ethics, Government, andthe World Economy (Irwin, 1993). He currently directs the Strategic Management Research Center at the University of Minnesota.

    Barry M. Mitnick is Associate Professor of Business Administration in the Katz Graduate School of Business at the University of Pittsburgh and Director of the Business, Government, and Society Research Institute. He received a B.S. in physics from MIT, an M.A. in physics from Columbia University, and an M.A. and Ph.D. in political science from the University of Pennsylvania. His research centers on agent-principal relationships in society, organizational incentive systems and boundary behavior, government regulatory behavior, corporate political activity, public versus private, corporate governance, and corporate social performance. He is the author of The Political Economy of Regulation (Columbia University Press) and of a number of articles in management, public administration, and policy journals. He was an originator of the theory of agency, which has now seen wide application in the social sciences. He received the 1982 Leavey Foundation Award for Excellence in Private Enterprise Education.

    William D. Oberman is a doctoral candidate in Business Environment and Public Policy at the Katz Graduate School of Business at the University of Pittsburgh. He holds a bachelor's degree in history and political science and master's degrees in energy resources and business administration. His areas of research interest include business-government relations, specifically the individual and collective political strategies of corporations, as well as cognitive and social structural factors affecting strategy formulation and organizational response to external issues.

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