CEO Activism and Public Mobilization

48 Pages Posted: 29 Nov 2023

See all articles by Young Hou

Young Hou

University of Virginia

Christopher Poliquin

UCLA Anderson School of Management

Date Written: November 6, 2023

Abstract

CEOs increasingly engage in activism on issues such as gun control, voting rights, and abortion. Although such activism may benefit their firms, the stated goal is often to mobilize the public and precipitate change. In an experiment with 4,578 respondents, we study the effect of CEO activism on people’s willingness to contact their U.S. senators about abortion. On average, showing a CEO message supporting abortion rights is not more effective at mobilizing pro-choice citizens than showing no message or showing a message from other speakers. Additionally, CEOs do not provoke countermobilization by people who oppose abortion. We explore heterogeneous treatment effects and find that CEO activism is better at motivating pro-choice citizens to engage in politics when their senators are Democrats and thus likely receptive to pro-choice activism, consistent with stakeholder alignment theory. Our findings contribute to research on social movements and mobilization in markets by examining the ability of CEOs and organizations to act as catalysts for social change.

Keywords: mobilization, CEO activism, nonmarket strategy, political participation, corporate-community relationship

JEL Classification: M00, M14, D72

Suggested Citation

Hou, Young and Poliquin, Christopher, CEO Activism and Public Mobilization (November 6, 2023). Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=4627436 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.4627436

Young Hou

University of Virginia ( email )

1400 University Ave
Charlottesville, VA 22903
United States

Christopher Poliquin (Contact Author)

UCLA Anderson School of Management ( email )

110 Westwood Plaza
Los Angeles, CA 90095
United States

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