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Dieter Zinnbauer on Mobilizing the Private Sector for Political Integrity

Updated: Apr 19, 2023

In 2022 Dieter Zinnbauer from Copenhagen University’s Department of Management, Society and Communication published a discussion paper on Corporate Political Responsibility: Mobilizing the Private Sector for Political Integrity. The paper claims that how business acts in the political arena has a substantive, at times defining, impact on the integrity and fairness of policymaking and policy outcomes. However, the conventional approach for regulating corporate conduct in this area faces a number of persistent challenges.

A confluence of several important dynamics offers the promise that responsible corporate political conduct can be encouraged and advanced from a very different vantage point—a new ecosystem for corporate political responsibility is in the making. For example: The first signature bill introduced by the Biden administration in the USA proposed an innovative clause that business executives should not only explain their company’s political strategy at shareholder meetings but also poll all shareholders on key elements beforehand and then explain why management opted to diverge or comply with the owners’ opinions. This ecosystem comes with a new cast of actors, new soft and hard accountability mechanisms and a trove of new resources, tools and collective action initiatives.

Zinnbauer provides an overview of this new governance regime, identifies the dynamics driving its evolution, describes main building blocks and discusses limitations. Several suggestions for policymakers and practitioners for how the potential of this new accountability regime can be fully utilized to support political integrity and how it can be most productively interlinked with conventional money-in-politics regulations for maximum benefit are explored.


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