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Objective

To understand how changes in the partisan control of the institutions of government may condition the effect of corporate political activities on bureaucratic decision making.

Methods

I examine the variation in the effectiveness of corporate political expenditures in reducing workplace safety (Occupational Safety and Health Administration) violations across partisan contexts between 1981 and 2006 for a large number of corporations.

Results

Corporate expenditures have a greater suppressant effect on workplace safety violations (but not inspections) when the Republicans control the Congress or presidency.

Conclusions

Corporations are able to influence bureaucratic decision making, but bureaucrats balance the demands of corporations against those of other party constituencies and their political principals. Thus, the partisan control of government importantly conditions corporate influence in the bureaucracy.