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Corporations in the political arena: an ethical framework

Andrew Barron (Department of Strategy, Entrepreneurship and Innovation, TBS Business School, Toulouse, France)
Stephen Stacey (SST Associates, Swindon, UK)

Journal of Business Strategy

ISSN: 0275-6668

Article publication date: 24 January 2020

Issue publication date: 18 March 2021




This study aims to explore how firms can configure their organisational architectures in ways that limit ethical transgressions of their corporate political activities (CPAs).


This conceptual work is informed by existing research into organisational architecture and ethical decision-making, combined with illustrative examples of firms’ political actions derived from secondary and primary data sources.


Findings suggest that the ways that firms assign decision-making authority and design performance management systems can, depending on their combined configuration, either help or hinder the promotion of ethical CPA practice.

Practical implications

The study provides practitioners with a useful tool for reflecting on the organisational levers they can pull to shield their firms from the financial and reputation damage associated with objectionable conduct in their political activities.


Whilst previous research studies emphasise the importance of statutory guidelines, self-regulation or corporate codes for promoting ethical CPA, this study argues that organisational design is an important yet overlooked antecedent of a firm’s ability to practice CPA ethically and responsibly.



Barron, A. and Stacey, S. (2021), "Corporations in the political arena: an ethical framework", Journal of Business Strategy, Vol. 42 No. 2, pp. 116-125.



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Copyright © 2020, Emerald Publishing Limited

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