Policymaker Responses to CEO Activism
34 Pages Posted: 16 Nov 2023
Date Written: October 18, 2023
CEOs increasingly engage in activism on controversial social and political issues, such as police reform, LGBTQ rights, and gun control, to influence the behavior of policymakers. We run an experiment on 514 elected, local politicians to examine how CEO activism on police reform affects the views of policymakers. Additionally, we examine how CEOs’ controversial positions on social issues affects politicians’ willingness to privately meet with CEOs or publicly advocate for their businesses. We find that CEO support for specific police reform policies has no effect on policymakers’ opinions. Policymakers, however, are much less willing to engage—either privately or publicly—with CEOs who take controversial positions on social issues. Our results suggest that CEO activism is a poor tool for influencing local politicians, at least on the topic of police reform, and underscore the business costs of CEOs taking political positions. We discuss the implications for CEOs and the activist groups that often pressure them to take public positions on controversial issues.
Keywords: CEO activism, public policy, non-market strategy, police reform, politician, local politics
JEL Classification: M00, H00
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation