The Class Embeddedness of Corporate Political Action: Leadership in Defense of the NAFTA

  • Dreiling M
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This paper examines the sources and significance of inter-corporate unity in political defense of the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA). Using a wide range of firm-level and inter-corporate network data, the author analyzes sources of leadership in the USA*NAFTA coalition among a sample of 200 corporations. Business Rounatable affiliation and higher degrees of centrality within U.S. Trade Advisory Committees significantly increased the odds of a corporation assuming leadership in the USA*NAFTA coalition. Board of director network centrality also influenced leadership outcomes. The number of subsidiary operations in Mexico, ranked sales, labor intensity of firm operations, and ideological propensities of political action committee contributions had significant bivariate associations, though did not significantly improve the fit of the logistic model. The very strong effects of Business Roundtable membership and centrality in the Trade Advisory network confirm the importance of inter-corporate cohesion in the policy formation process and the propitious functions of inter-firm networks in mobilizing a collective defense of the policy outcome; that is, the NAFTA. Consistent with a class embeddedness account, the analysis provides support for political theories of trade policy and globalization that are attentive to the relationship between class organization and state structure.

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  • Michael C. Dreiling

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