A Few Firms Have Outsized Influence in D.C.

January 25th, 2012  |  Source: HBS Working Knowledge

"The whole perspective of how firms influence policy environments is a relatively new question to economists."

It's a truism for many that in American politics money buys influence. In one recent poll, 75 percent of respondents said they believed "money buys results in Congress." But the question of whose money and what results is not so easy to answer. There's hardly a straight line to be drawn in the twisted web of Washington fundraising and lobbying that can definitively prove dollar x bought result y.

Perhaps that's why there has been such little empirical research among economists on the issue.

"The whole perspective of how firms influence policy environments is a relatively new question to economists," says Harvard Business School Associate Professor William R. Kerr. "It's uncharted territory."

Kerr's interest in the topic came from studies he's done on immigration issues—in particular, looking at how the importation of highly skilled workers affects a firm's capacity for innovation.

Read more here: http://hbswk.hbs.edu/item/6881.html?wknews=01252012




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