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Corporations, Politics and Democracy: Corporate Political Activities as Processes of Corruption

Research Seminars - business and economics
  • Topic: Corporations, Politics and Democracy: Corporate Political Activities as Processes of Corruption
  • Speaker:

    Professor Daniel Nyberg

  • Venue:Building E4A, Room 523, Macquarie University
  • Time: 11am - 1pm

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Corporate involvement in democratic processes takes the form of Corporate Political Activity (CPA). The emphasis in the CPA literature to date has been the instrumentality for the firm in engaging in CPA by focusing on the rationale behind CPA, the tactics employed, and the outcomes in corporate profit or policy changes. Considerably less attention has been devoted to the implication of CPA for the democratic processes the activities aim to influence. To theorize the corroding influence of CPA on democratic processes, I draw on established political theories of corruption to develop an integrative model to explain how CPA corrupts democracy. Through CPA businesses exclude citizen representation in political decision making, influence citizen interests to align with corporate agendas, and distort communication between political decision makers and the electorate. The paper makes three central contributions. First, the paper explains how CPA activities corrupt democratic politics. Second, by focusing on the processes of corruption, the paper explains systemic forms of corruptions in countries less associated with corruption. Finally, by explaining the influence on democratic processes the model contributes to understand the immediate effect and, more importantly, the long term trend of decreasing legitimacy of political systems. As such, the paper is defence of democracy as a system of governance.


Daniel Nyberg is a Professor in Management at the University of Newcastle and Honorary Professor at the University of Sydney. He is pursuing research into how organizations take part in negotiating and shaping how we, as individuals, organizations, and societies, are responding to global and societal phenomena. His empirical projects are based on interviews and public documents, employing forms of discourse analysis. Current projects include corporate responses to climate change and corporate political activities in the public sphere. His research has been awarded major grants from the Australian Research Council (ARC) and the EU. He has published in a range of international journals, including *Organization Studies*, *Human Relations*, *British Journal of Industrial Relations*, *Environment and Planning: A*, *Organization*, *British Journal of Sociology*, and *Journal of Business Ethics*. He is just about to launch a book on corporate responses to climate change for Cambridge University Press.

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