Corporate Political Strategies
- Rodrigo B. DeMelloRodrigo B. DeMelloStrategy and Operations, Merrimack College
Firms deploy value-based strategies to achieve competitive advantage in the marketplace. However, processes of value creation and appropriation do not happen in a vacuum but are structured by a set of formal market institutions that define, among other things, policies and regulations on standards, privacy, safety, trade, and access to resources. Corporate political strategies are the ways firms use to shape these policies and regulations in favorable ways that help them achieve competitive advantage. The political activities include lobbying, participation in hearings, campaign contributions, the use of revolving-door personnel, advocacy, grass-roots mobilization, and nurturing and exploiting political ties. Firms interact with government officeholders in different government arenas, such as national and local legislatures, government agencies, and the judiciary branch.
For most corporations, being able to deploy effective political strategies is, therefore, necessary for achieving sustainable competitive advantage. The research into corporate political strategies has tried to explain why firms engage in political strategy, when, and which political activity would yield the best results. The usual theoretical framings draw from Resource Dependence Theory, Institutional Theory, Resource-Based View, Agency Theory, and Stakeholder Theory. While the strategic logic underlying each theoretical approach varies, they are better seen as complementary to each other. The fact that the phenomenon of political strategies is complex, dynamic, and an important part of daily business of several corporations favors the integration of different theoretical approaches.
Although the literature on corporate political strategies has considerably advanced, there are still areas that could benefit from future research: the integration of market and political strategies, especially the use of market actions as political influence; the integration of social and political strategies; the role that individual and managerial aspects play in choice of political strategies; and multicountry comparative studies, especially focusing on ideological turnarounds and state capitalism.