Public Forces and Private Politics in American Big Business

Public Forces and Private Politics in American Big Business

What are the political motivations behind firms' decisions to adopt policies that self-regulate their behavior in a manner that is beyond compliance with state, federal and local law? Public Forces and Private Politics in American Big Business advances a new understanding of the firm as a political actor that expands beyond the limited conceptualizations offered by economists and organization theorists. Timothy Werner develops a general theory of private politics that is tested using three case studies: the environment, gay rights and executive compensation. Using the conclusions of these case studies and an analysis of interviews with executives at 'Fortune 500' firms, Werner finds that politics can contribute significantly to our understanding of corporate decision-making on private policies and corporate social responsibility in the United States.


"How is it that big business in the U.S. has become both more powerful over government and more vulnerable to activist pressure? In addressing this puzzle, Timothy Werner has pulled off a major feat: he has woven together an analysis of 'private politics', public policy agendas, and the theory of the firm that is accessible, nuanced, and wide-ranging in its implications."
Tim Bartley, Associate Professor, Department of Sociology, Indiana University

"Had Winston Churchill been an economist, he might have said, 'Capitalism is the worst form of economic organization, except for all those other forms that have been tried from time to time'. In Public Forces and Private Politics, Tim Werner goes beyond the 'which?' when it comes to government or market, and directs the reader towards 'how?' That is, how can a system based on both capitalism and democracy be made to work better? What are the real sources of difficulty, and what can be done about them? Werner argues that business groups are partly strategic, but business political action is also partly just defense. Interestingly, it turns out that business has today has more leverage over the formal state, but is less powerful in the larger civil society. Along the way, Werner slays a few sacred cows, on both the left and the right. This is the sort of book America needs if we are going to redirect politics away from partisan bickering and toward solutions."
Michael C. Munger, Director of the Philosophy, Politics, and Economics Program, Duke University

"Werner looks at corporate decision making rom the perspective of large corporations in this volume in the Cambridge University Press "Business and Public Policy" series...This book would be of most interest to specialists concerned with corporate decision making, especially with regard to public relations. Summing Up: Recommended." -M. Perelman, California State University, Chico, CHOICE Magazine