Project Overview

Project Description

This project seeks to improve society’s understanding of how and why firms participate in public life by tracking the political behaviour of large transnational corporations across different activities (lobbying, campaign contributions and corporate social responsibility) and venues (national, European Union and United Nations). At the core of the project is a unique database of 2000 firms from across the globe. In addition to collecting information on these firms’ lobbying, campaign and CSR activities in the national and international venues, we also gather relevant data to help explain this political engagement such as firm size, headquarters, industry and the institutional and cultural environments of home and host countries. To complement these more quantitative measures, we are conducting a content analysis of the CSR policies of 200-300 firms at different points in time. This analysis will be fleshed out further with qualitative interviews with firm managers, regulators and NGOs to gain insight into the motivations behind, and the effects of, CSR activities. We will utilize this distinctive database and innovative comparative research design to obtain greater insight into how large, transnationally-active firms negotiate their increasingly complex political and social environments.

Research Questions

  • How and why do firms participate in politics?
  • How does firm behaviour vary across different modes of politics (lobbying, campaign activity, participation in corporate social responsibility)?
  • How does it vary across firms’ home and host countries?
  • To what extent do firms alter their behaviour across institutional settings, e.g. will a firm use similar lobbying strategies in the German Bundestag the US Congress, and the EU institutions?
  • Do the determinants of firm behaviour for one mode of political engagement explain their behaviour for other modes?
  • Which behavioural logic(s) (consequentialist, communicative, oriented toward appropriateness) best explain(s) firm behaviour and how does this vary across modes of political behaviour?