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How to win friends and influence the right people: designing the corporate government affairs unit

Asier Pereda (Department of Strategy and General Management, Ramon Llull University, ESADE Business School, Barcelona, Spain)
Andrew Barron (Department of Strategy, Entrepreneurship and Innovation, TBS Business School, Toulouse, France)

Journal of Business Strategy

ISSN: 0275-6668

Article publication date: 10 January 2020

Issue publication date: 21 August 2020




This study aims to explore how firms can design their government affairs (GAs) units in ways that improve their ability to monitor and influence legislative developments in their firms’ corporate political environments.


This conceptual work is informed by existing research into organizational design, brought to life with illustrative examples of firms’ political actions derived from interviews conducted with practitioners in the field.


In line with organizational design thinking, the authors find that high-performing GA units need to be designed and built using a blend of mutually reinforcing organizational mechanisms. GA units should be staffed by autonomous managers with mixed skills-sets. Moreover, they should not be constrained by formal rules, but instead given autonomy and support to create lateral relations with other business units.

Practical implications

This study provides a “recipe” that managers can follow to create opportunities for the exchange of political information within their firms and enable and motivate GAs practitioners to monitor and influence political developments more effectively.


This research exposes important, organizational antecedents of firms’ political strategies, which have not been systematically explored in the existing literature.



Pereda, A. and Barron, A. (2020), "How to win friends and influence the right people: designing the corporate government affairs unit", Journal of Business Strategy, Vol. 41 No. 5, pp. 27-37.



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