Module Note | March 2013 (Revised March 2013)

Business and Government: Campaign Contributions and Lobbying in the United States

by Karthik Ramanna, Sandra J. Sucher and Ian McKown Cornell


This module note on business-government relations introduces students to the state of campaign contributions and lobbying by corporations in the United States. The note develops two hypotheses as to the impact of corporate political engagement: (i) a vehicle to facilitate good government; and (ii) an instrument of special-interest capture. The note can be used to generate a discussion on the following issues: (1) In a democratic capitalist society, what is the appropriate role of business in government? (2) When it comes to political contributions, should corporations have the same rights and responsibilities as individuals? The note also describes the various practical choices businesses face on political engagement, including disclosure options and options to engage through trade or ideological associations. This description can be used to encourage business students to develop an aspiration for their companies' political engagement strategies.

Keywords: political economy; Business and Government Relations; Business and Government Relations; Government and Politics; Public Administration Industry; United States;


Ramanna, Karthik, Sandra J. Sucher, and Ian McKown Cornell. "Business and Government: Campaign Contributions and Lobbying in the United States." Harvard Business School Module Note 113-037, March 2013. (Revised March 2013.)