Article | Capitalism and Society | March 2007

Local Company Politics: A Proposal

by Raymond Fisman and Eric D. Werker

Abstract

Corrupt politicians, and poor government more generally, are commonly viewed as a primary barrier to economic progress. The roots to these problems run deep in many political systems across the developing world, and attempts at reform have rarely found much success. To combat this impasse, we suggest a radical new approach to local politics that, instead of proposing reforms to the electoral process, focuses on the political actors that might enter into this process. Specifically, we suggest that private firms be allowed to compete in elections to hold public office. That is, a corporate entity (e.g., Ernst and Young), rather than an individual representative of the firm, would be permitted to contest a local election. We argue that this is feasible: sufficient economic incentives could be put in place to induce firms to run for office, particularly if company officeholders prove to be competent in revenue collection. More importantly, we claim that there are many channels through which company politics should improve government, from breaking up entrenched old boys' networks to leveraging a company's existing organizational expertise. Private firms have realized efficiency and performance gains in areas such as infrastructure and many bureaucratic functions; we argue that the private sector can also attain results in politics, the most public of all realms.

Keywords: Behavior;

Citation:

Fisman, Raymond, and Eric D. Werker. "Local Company Politics: A Proposal." Capitalism and Society 2, no. 1 (March 2007).