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Business and political process reform: ignore or engage?

Robert Lawrence Healy (Wexler and Walker Public Policy Associates, Washington, DC, USA)
Spiro Maroulis (School of Public Affairs, Arizona State University , Phoenix, Arizona, USA)

Society and Business Review

ISSN: 1746-5680

Article publication date: 16 October 2018

Issue publication date: 2 October 2019

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Abstract

Purpose

The purpose of this paper is twofold. First, the authors elaborate on why American businesses are often willing to advocate and deploy corporate political resources for or against specific governmental policies, but largely reluctant to engage in more general political process reform. Second, the authors introduce a set of ideas encouraging a business-driven political process reform in the USA, which the authors refer to as Corporate Political Responsibility (CPR).

Design/methodology/approach

This paper reviews existing literature on why firms generally avoid advocating for political process reform to identify several firm-level impediments to such action. As an outcome of that review, a CPR governance concept – a derivative from the corporate responsibility literature – is proposed and unpacked as a proposition that if adopted by firms would encourage and support business-driven process reform advocacy.

Findings

The primary findings are that American firms lack a rationale justifying business political activity into the political process arena; a willingness to assume a high level of political risk associated with political process intervention; and an executable corporate mechanism for doing so.

Research limitations/implications

A second stage build out of the paper would involve at a minimum multiple research interviews with corporate executives and trade association officials to test the viability of the CPR proposal as to whether or not the proposed governance statement would liberate firms to advocate political process reform. This paper sets the predicate for additional research.

Originality/value

This paper may well be the first to identify the concept of CPR as a key corporate governance proposition. It is also likely the first to conceptualize CPR as more than a theoretical rendering – it is executable. Corporations can put CPR into practice through a firm’s Board of Directors endorsing a governance statement – Corporate Political Responsibility Protocol (CPR/P) – that transforms the CPR concept into a sanctioned firm activity, giving executives significant latitude to spend corporate resources advocating political process change. This paper suggests a variety of reform possibilities – electoral, campaign finance and legislative – that could benefit from business reform advocacy.

Keywords

Citation

Healy, R.L. and Maroulis, S. (2019), "Business and political process reform: ignore or engage?", Society and Business Review, Vol. 14 No. 3, pp. 254-263. https://doi.org/10.1108/SBR-06-2018-0067

Publisher

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Emerald Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2018, Emerald Publishing Limited