Flexing muscle: Corporate political expenditures as signals to the bureaucracy

Sanford Gordon, Catherine Hafer

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

    Abstract

    Regulatory agencies impose costs and benefits tailored to individual firms through their discretionary enforcement activities. We propose that corporations use political expenditures in part to "flex their muscles" to regulators and convey their willingness to fight an agency's specific determinations in the political arena. Because the signaling function of political expenditures is strategically complex, we derive a formal model wherein we demonstrate the existence of an equilibrium in which (1) large political donors are less compliant than smaller ones, but the bureaucracy monitors them less, and (2) firms with publicly observable problems reduce their political expenditures. We test the empirical implications of the model using plant-level data from the Nuclear Regulatory Commission on the inspection of 63 privately operated nuclear power plants and the political expenditures of their parent companies. We find strong evidence for the first prediction and qualified support for the second.

    Original languageEnglish (US)
    Pages (from-to)245-261
    Number of pages17
    JournalAmerican Political Science Review
    Volume99
    Issue number2
    StatePublished - May 2005

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    bureaucracy
    expenditures
    firm
    nuclear power plant
    corporation
    parents
    costs
    evidence

    ASJC Scopus subject areas

    • Sociology and Political Science

    Cite this

    Flexing muscle : Corporate political expenditures as signals to the bureaucracy. / Gordon, Sanford; Hafer, Catherine.

    In: American Political Science Review, Vol. 99, No. 2, 05.2005, p. 245-261.

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

    Gordon, Sanford ; Hafer, Catherine. / Flexing muscle : Corporate political expenditures as signals to the bureaucracy. In: American Political Science Review. 2005 ; Vol. 99, No. 2. pp. 245-261.
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