The Role of Corporate Donations in Chinese Political Markets

Journal of Business Ethics 153 (2):519-545 (2018)

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Abstract
Many corporations actively engage in political activities to enhance their relationships with politicians, facilitating access to scarce resources and creating competitive advantages. We investigate corporate donations to explore how they initiate interactions between firms and new local leaders in China. Specifically, we propose that political turnover creates unique opportunities for firms to win over new officials via corporate donations, especially in competitive markets. Moreover, we find that firms that make generous donations at the beginning of a new city secretary’s tenure receive more attention from representatives of new local leaders, especially firms that were politically disadvantaged under a predecessor’s governance. Empirical studies on the turnover of city secretaries between 2001 and 2012 in China strongly support our hypotheses. Consequently, this study improves our understanding of how corporate donations initiate social exchanges between firms and politicians.
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DOI 10.1007/s10551-016-3378-1
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