Skip to main content Accessibility help

The Corporate Context of Lobbying Activity

  • Holly Brasher (a1) and David Lowery (a2)


Despite extensive research on political activity on the part of corporations, clear and consistent findings remain elusive. We identify three reasons for this failure. First, most of the empirical literature on corporate political activity simply studies the wrong phenomena by examining political action committees rather than lobbying more generally. Second, the literature studies an excessively narrow sample of organizations that might engage in lobbying, focusing almost always on extremely large corporations, which inevitably attenuates variance on many of the variables hypothesized to influence engagement in political activity. And third, prior work is rarely attentive to the diversity of corporate activities, narrowly conceptualizing vital aspects of the business context that might influence decisions to engage in political activity. Based on this critique, we develop and test new models of corporate political activity, finding that the diversity of the economic context within which firms work and firm size matter a great deal, if in ways somewhat different from those reported in prior work.



Hide All
Andres, Gary J. 1985. “Business Involvement in Campaign Finance: Factors Influencing the Decision to Form a Corporate PAC.” PS 18: 156181.
Ansolobehere, Stephen, Snyder, James M. Jr., and Tripathi, Micky. 2000. “Are PAC Contributions Motivated by Access? New Evidence from the Lobby Disclosure Act.” Manuscript, Department of Political Science, Massachusetts Institute of Technology.
Bartel, Ann and Glenn Thomas, Lacy. 1987. “Predation Through Regulation: The Wage and Profit Effects of the Occupational Safety and Health Administration.” Journal of Law and Economics 30: 239264.
Baumgartner, Frank R. and Leech, Beth L. 1998. Basic Interests: The Importance of Groups in Politics and in Political Science. Princeton: Princeton University Press.
Baumgartner, Frank R. and Leech, Beth L. 2001. “Interest Niches and Policy Bandwagons: Patterns of Interest Group Involvement in National Politics.” Journal of Politics 63: 11911213
Berry, Jeffrey M. 1999. The New Liberalism: The Rising Power of Citizen Groups. Washington, D.C.: Brookings Institution Press.
Boies, John L. 1989. “Money, Business, and the State: Material Interests, Fortune 500 Corporations, and the Size of Political Action Committees.” American Sociological Review 54: 821833.
Crandall, Robert W. 1983. Controlling Industrial Pollution: The Economics and Politics of Clean Air. Washington, D.C.: The Brookings Institution.
Coughlin, Peter J., Mueller, Dennis C., and Murrell, Peter. 1990. “Electoral Politics, Interest Groups, and the Size of Government.” Economic Inquiry 28: 682705.
Denzau, Arthur T. and Munger, Michael C. 1986. “Legislators and Interest Groups: How Unorganized Interests Get Represented.” American Political Science Review 80: 89106.
Evans, Diane M. 1986. “PAC Contributions and Roll-Call Voting: Conditional Power.” In Interest Group Politics, 2nd Ed. Eds. Cigler, Allan J. and Loomis, Burdett A. Washington, D.C.: CQ Press.
Gerber, Elisabeth R. 1999. The Populist Paradox: Interest Group Influence and the Promise of Direct Legislation. Princeton: Princeton University Press.
Gray, Virginia, and Lowery, David. 1996. The Population Ecology of Interest Representation: Lobbying Communities in the American States. Ann Arbor, Michigan: University of Michigan Press.
Gray, Virginia, and Lowery, David. 1997. “Reconceptualizing PAC Formation: It's Not a Collective Action Problem, and It May Be an Arms Race.” American Politics Quarterly 25 (3): 319346.
Gray, Virginia, Lowery, David, and Wolak, Jenny. 2004. “Demographic Opportunities, Collective Action, Competitive Exclusion, and the Crowded Room: Lobbying Forms Among Institutions.” State Politics and Policy Quarterly 4 (1): 1854.
Grenzke, Janet M. 1989. “PACs and the Congressional Supermarket: The Currency is Complex.” American Journal of Political Science 33: 124.
Grier, Kevin B., Munger, Michael C., and Roberts, Brian E. 1991. “The Industrial Organization of Corporate Political Participation.” Southern Economic Journal 57: 727738.
Grier, Kevin B., Munger, Michael C., and Roberts, Brian E. 1994. “The Determinants of Industry Political Activity, 1978–1986.” American Political Science Review 88: 911926.
Hall, Richard L. and Wayman, Frank W. 1990. “Buying Time: Moneyed Interest and the Mobilization of Bias in Congressional Subcommittees.” American Political Science Review 84: 797920.
Hansen, Wendy L. and Mitchell, Neil. 2000. “Disaggregating and Explaining Corporate Political Activity: Domestic and Foreign Corporations in National Politics.” American Political Science Review 94: 891903.
Hansen, Wendy L., Mitchell, Neil J., and Drope, Jeffrey M. 2005. “The Logic of Private and Collective Action.” American Journal of Political Science 49: 150167.
Heinz, John P., Laumann, Edward O., Nelson, Robert L., and Salisbury, Robert. 1993. The Hollow Core. Cambridge, Massachusetts: Harvard University Press.
Herndon, James F. 1982. “Access, Record, and Competition as Influences on Group Contributions to Congressional Campaigns.” Journal of Politics 44: 9961019.
Humphries, Craig. 1991. “Corporations, PACs and the Strategic Link Between Contributions and Lobbying Activities.” Western Political Quarterly 44: 353372.
Kollman, Ken. 1998. Outside Lobbying. Princeton: Princeton University Press.
Lowery, David. 2005. “Why Do Organized Interests Lobby? A Multi-Goal, Multi-Context Theory of Lobbying.” Professorial Inaugural Address, Leiden University, May 24.
Lowery, David and Brasher, Holly. 2004. Organized Interests and American Government. Boston: McGraw Hill.
David, Lowery and Gray, Virginia. 2004. “A Neopluralist Perspective on Research on Organized Interests,Political Research Quarterly 57 (1): 163175.
Lowery, David, Gray, Virginia, Anderson, Jennifer, and Newmark, Adam J. 2004. “Collective Action and the Mobilization of Institutions,Journal of Politics 66: 684705.
Lowery, David, Gray, Virginia, and Fellowes, Matthew. 2005. “Sisyphus Meets the Borg: Economic Scale and the Inequalities in Interest Representation,Journal of Theoretical Politics 17: 4174.
Masters, Marick F. and Keim, Gerald D. 1985. “Determinants of PAC Participation Among Large Corporations.” Journal of Politics 47: 11581173.
Matasar, Ann B. 1986. Corporate PACs and Federal Campaign Laws: Use or Abuse of Power. Quorum Books.
McChesney, Fred S. 1997. Money for Nothing: Politicians, Rent Extraction, and Political Extortion. Cambridge: Harvard University Press.
McKeown, Timothy. 1994. “The Epidemiology of Corporate PAC Formation, 1975–84.” Journal of Economic Behavior and Organization 24: 153168.
Mitchell, Neil F., Hansen, Wendy L., and Jepsen, Eric. 1997. “The Determinants of Domestic and Foreign Corporate Political Activity.” Journal of Politics 59: 1096–1072.
Mitchell, William C. and Munger, Michael C. 1991. “Economic Models of Interest Groups: An Introductory Survey.” American Journal of Political Science 35: 512546.
Mueller, Dennis G. and Murrell, Peter. 1986. “Interest Groups and the Size of Government.” Public Choice 48: 125145.
Munger, Michael C. 1988. “On the Political Participation of the Firm in the Electoral Process: An Update.” Public Choice 56: 295298.
Olson, Mancur. 1965. The Logic of Collective Action. Cambridge: Harvard University Press.
Olson, Mancur. 1982. The Rise and Decline of Nations. New Haven: Yale University Press.
Page, Benjamin I., Shapiro, Robert Y., and Dempsey, Glenn. 1987. “What Moves Public Opinion?American Political Science Review 81: 2343.
Peltzman, Sam. 1976. “Toward a More General Theory of Regulation.” Journal of Law and Economics 19: 211240.
Sabato, Larry J. 1984. Inside the Work of Political Action Committees. New York: Norton.
Salisbury, Robert. 1984. “Interest Representation: The Dominance of Institutions.” American Political Science Review 81: 6476.
Schattschneider, E. E. 1960. The Semisovereign People. New York: Holt, Rinehart, and Winston.
Schlozman, Kay Lehman and Tierney, John T. 1983. “More of the Same: Washington pressure Group Activity in a Decade of Change.” Journal of Politics 45: 351373.
Schlozman, Kay Lehman and Tierney, John T. 1986. Organized Interests and American Democracy. New York: Harper and Row.
Shugart, William F. and Tollison, Robert D. 1986. “On the Growth of Government and the Political Economy of Legislation.” Research in Law and Economics 9: 111127.
Smith, Mark. 2000. American Business and Political Power. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.
Smith, Richard A. 1995. “Interest Group Influence in the U.S. Congress.” Legislative Studies Quarterly 20: 89139.
Sorauf, Frank. J. 1984. What Price PACs? New York: 20th Century Fund.
Stigler, George. 1971. “The Theory of Economic Regulation.” Bell Journal of Econometrics and Management Science 2: 321.
Truman, David B. 1951. The Governmental Process. New York: Alfred A. Knopf.
Wright, John R. 1990. “Contributions, Lobbying, and Committee Voting in the U.S. House of Representatives. American Political Science Review 84: 417438.
Wright, John R. 1985. “PACs, Contributions, and Roll Calls: An Organizational Perspective.” American Political Science Review 79: 400414.


Related content

Powered by UNSILO

The Corporate Context of Lobbying Activity

  • Holly Brasher (a1) and David Lowery (a2)


Full text views

Total number of HTML views: 0
Total number of PDF views: 0 *
Loading metrics...

Abstract views

Total abstract views: 0 *
Loading metrics...

* Views captured on Cambridge Core between <date>. This data will be updated every 24 hours.

Usage data cannot currently be displayed.