The conspicuous corporation : business, public policy, and representative democracy /
Neil J. Mitchell.
Ann Arbor : University of Michigan Press, c1997.
249 p. : ill. ; 24 cm.
0472108182 (acid-free paper)
More Details
Ann Arbor : University of Michigan Press, c1997.
0472108182 (acid-free paper)
catalogue key
Includes bibliographical references (p. 225-239) and index.
A Look Inside
Full Text Reviews
Appeared in Choice on 1998-03-01:
This analysis of organized business interests very nicely explores a long discussed question: how influential are corporations in politics? The structures of business and government would indicate that corporations have a huge political advantage. Yet, as Mitchell (Univ. of New Mexico) notes, perhaps scholars have asked the wrong questions by putting too much emphasis on institutional characteristics. He then asks some better questions, with considerable creativity and insight. Highlights include a discussion of three distinct "pillars" of business political power, a review (far from new) of divisions within the business universe, a look at business and union conflict in the policy process, and finally an explanation as to why and how businesses frequently lose on public policy initiatives. The final section looks at governments' tendencies over time to make "heroic" decisions in the face of business opposition and resources. The overdrawn conclusion lacks the neutrality and objectivity that characterizes early sections. The book should nevertheless interest even casual observers of US and UK public policy making. Both general and academic readers, advanced undergraduates and up. W. P. Browne Central Michigan University
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Choice, March 1998
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Main Description
Why, despite the political advantages of business in the policy process, do business interests still sometimes lose policy fights in the political system? Money, mobility, connections, and incentives load the political system in favor of business interests. Against the odds, when the conspicuous corporation meets the virtuous politician, business often loses in the policy struggle. In answering this question, Neil J. Mitchell reassesses the dimensions of business power in the political system and provides a fresh consideration of how economic power translates into political power. Charles Lindbloom's analysis of business power provides a point of departure for an examination of the evidence on business influence over public preferences, on the importance of business confidence to politicians, and on the financial and lobbying activities of business interests. Mitchell then considers the position of labor unions--the traditional opposition to business--in contemporary policy making. Finally, he discusses the conditions under which business power breaks down. This is accompanied by an analysis of a variety of cases in which business has attempted to influence the policy making process to test his findings. Extensively researched, this book sheds new light on the activities of business in politics, on the strength of interests opposing business, and on business policy failures in the United States and the United Kingdom. The empirical analysis builds on survey data, extensive interviews, and archival research. The relationship between business and government is a core topic for economists, sociologists and political scientists, taking us from heroic struggles over policy to sordid episodes of political corruption. The book will be of interest to scholars in the social sciences and in business schools as well as to the general reader interested in power and influence in representative democracies. Neil Mitchell is Professor of Political Science, University of New Mexico.
Table of Contents
Business and Politics
The Conspicuous Corporationp. 3
Three Views of Business and Politics: Group, State, and Policy Theoriesp. 15
Business Power
The First Pillar of Business Power: Public Preferences, the Media, and Businessp. 41
The Second Pillar of Business Power: A Poststructural View of Business Confidencep. 61
The Third Pillar of Business Power (I): Business Political Financep. 79
The Third Pillar of Business Power (II): Associations, Interest Representation, and the Descent from Heavenp. 99
Business Opposition
Business Divisions, Collective Action, and Countervailing Powerp. 127
Business, Unions, and the Policy Processp. 155
Business Failure
Why Business Losesp. 167
Heroic Policy: The Environment, Labor, and the Slave Tradep. 191
Conclusionp. 219
Surveys of British Firms, Employer Organizations, and Trade Unionsp. 223
Referencesp. 225
Indexp. 241
Table of Contents provided by Blackwell. All Rights Reserved.

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