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Public Forces and Private Politics in American Big Business


Part of Business and Public Policy

  • Date Published: November 2018
  • availability: Available
  • format: Paperback
  • isbn: 9781107606777

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About the Authors
  • What are the political motivations behind firms' decisions to adopt policies that self-regulate their behavior in a manner that is beyond compliance with state, federal and local law? Public Forces and Private Politics in American Big Business advances a new understanding of the firm as a political actor that expands beyond the limited conceptualizations offered by economists and organization theorists. Timothy Werner develops a general theory of private politics that is tested using three case studies: the environment, gay rights and executive compensation. Using the conclusions of these case studies and an analysis of interviews with executives at 'Fortune 500' firms, Werner finds that politics can contribute significantly to our understanding of corporate decision-making on private policies and corporate social responsibility in the United States.

    • Proposes a new theory of the firm as a political actor
    • Features case studies covering a range of issues, including the environment, gay rights and corporate governance
    • Interviews with executives at forty firms in the 'Fortune 500' demonstrate that the statistical relationships found in the quantitative case studies reflect executives' decision-making processes
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    Reviews & endorsements

    'How is it that big business in the US has become both more powerful over government and more vulnerable to activist pressure? In addressing this puzzle, Timothy Werner has pulled off a major feat: he has woven together an analysis of 'private politics', public policy agendas, and the theory of the firm that is accessible, nuanced, and wide-ranging in its implications.' Tim Bartley, Indiana University

    'Had Winston Churchill been an economist, he might have said, 'Capitalism is the worst form of economic organization, except for all those other forms that have been tried from time to time'. In [this book] Timothy Werner goes beyond the 'which?' when it comes to government or market, and directs the reader towards 'how?' … Werner argues that business groups are partly strategic, but business political action is also partly just defense. Interestingly, it turns out that business today has more leverage over the formal state, but is less powerful in the larger civil society … Werner slays a few sacred cows, on both the left and the right. This is the sort of book America needs if we are going to redirect politics away from partisan bickering and toward solutions.' Michael C. Munger, Director of the Philosophy, Politics, and Economics Program, Duke University

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    Product details

    • Date Published: November 2018
    • format: Paperback
    • isbn: 9781107606777
    • length: 205 pages
    • dimensions: 230 x 152 x 10 mm
    • weight: 0.3kg
    • contains: 16 b/w illus. 6 maps 10 tables
    • availability: Available
  • Table of Contents

    1. Introduction
    2. The firm as political actor and a theory of private policymaking
    3. Unveiling the public roots of private policymaking
    4. The public, the state, and corporate environmentalism
    5. Public opinion and gay rights in the workplace
    6. Total executive compensation and regulatory threat
    7. Conclusion
    Appendix: data sources and variable measurement by chapter.

  • Author

    Timothy Werner, University of Texas, Austin
    Timothy Werner is an Associate Professor of Business, Government and Society at McCombs School of Business, University of Texas, Austin. He previously worked as a legislative and regulatory analyst for a major energy firm, which inspired him to place the investigation of corporations' private political decision-making at the heart of his research. He was presented with the Emerging Scholars Award by the American Political Science Association (APSA) in September 2013.

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