Corporate Influence Over the Policymaking Process

Understanding corporate influence over the policymaking process


Steven Rashin

Corporations and organized interests influence the policymaking process from an idea’s inception through its codification into law to its implementation.  There is a consensus between policymakers, scholars, and corporate leaders that a degree of corporate influence over policy is necessary to ensure that the government understands the implications of the policies they are about to enact.  For example, corporations regularly note that regulations will have unintended consequences (see e.g., a letter from the New York Stock Exchange to the Securities and Exchange Commission about required disclosures on minerals sourced from the Democratic Republic of the Congo  However, there is a vigorous debate over how extensive this influence should be and what, if anything, should be done about it.   

Our aim is to understand corporate influence over the policymaking process.  More specifically, we are interested in questions such as: What types of arguments influence policymakers? Do certain types of firms have an advantage in the regulatory process? Why do corporations often not lobby on issues that will affect their bottom lines?  The focus of this initiative is bringing rigorous methods to study these pressing questions.  Understanding them will allow us to better inform the public debate about unequal influence.

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