We propose a strategy to distinguish investment and consumption motives for political contributions by examining the behavior of individual corporate executives. If executives expect contributions to yield policies beneficial to company interests, those whose compensation varies directly with corporate earnings should contribute more than those whose compensation comes largely from salary alone. We find a robust relationship between giving and the sensitivity of pay to company performance and show that the intensity of this relationship varies across groups of executives in ways that are consistent with instrumental giving but not with alternative, taste-based, accounts. Together with earlier findings, our results suggest that contributions are often best understood as purchases of "good will" whose returns, while positive in expectation, are contingent and rare.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Sociology and Political Science