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Peering In From Corporate Political Activity

Douglas A. Schuler
Published 2008 · Political Science

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This article responds to Professor Barley's address in which he said that corporations have inordinate power relative to other groups in society because of their superior resources and relationships with political actors. The article provides data on lobbying and political campaign contributions to show that corporations are dominant in resources, although nonbusiness interest groups actively use the same political activities. Also reviewed are prior studies showing that large corporations share intimate social networks with high-ranking public policy officials, leading to many benefits, including political power. The article provides conjecture that six conditions exist often enough to check the absolute dominance of corporate interests in public policy outcomes. The article indicates that contemporary organizational researchers have largely focused on the private benefits of corporate political activities and in turn have neglected to study the public economic, social, and political effects of such activities.
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