CEO Activism and Public Mobilization
48 Pages Posted: 29 Nov 2023
Date Written: November 6, 2023
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: Suggested Citation