Business as political actor – evolving practice, emerging norms and shifting expectations for a pivotal determinant of public trust in both business and democracy (BIZPOL)
BIZPOL deploys a mix of innovative, multi-disciplinary approaches to substantially advance scholarly thinking, as well as the practical policy debate on corporate political activity (CPA). CPA comprises all non-market activities by companies when they engage with governments and policy-making more broadly to advance their interests. As such, CPA is forcefully becoming central to some of the most vexing societal challenges of our times and evolving into an important area of research in a variety of fields. Business is increasingly recognised as a crucial political actor to address issue such as climate change or corruption. Yet, at the same time, there is a growing public perception in many countries that corporate interests have disproportionate influence over policy-making. This suspicion, real or not, has dramatic consequences for public trust in both democracy and markets. With BIZPOL I aim to make significant contributions to the growing body of scholarship in this area through four interrelated work streams: • what should CPA look like? An exploration of plausible normative expectations for responsible CPA drawing on normative theories of democracy; • what does CPA look like? A comparative diagnostic exercise to assess the transparency and patterns of current CPA practices in major European companies with new metrics and new data; • how is CPA “produced”? A qualitative, in-depth exploration of where and how expectations and decisions about responsible exercise of CPA are constructed and negotiated, inside companies, as well as in the broader stakeholder community; and, • where is CPA heading? A survey and desk-research supported interrogation of the future evolution of CPA and the potential of research and education to critically and constructively accompany this trajectory.