This essay seeks to encourage scholarship on individual businesses in American politics, particularly historical and institutional scholarship. I begin by substantiating the empirical importance of the subject, showing that individual firms constitute a plurality of interest organizations active in Washington. I then review the mismatch between received interest group theory and the political operations of businesses, emphasizing mobilization, preference formation, and strategic choice. The next section briefly assesses and critiques research in this area that employs the neoclassical microeconomic theory of the firm. The largest portion of the paper is devoted to explicating the historical and institutional approach and reviewing key contributions to it, building on the alternative theory of the firm first advanced by Cyert and March in 1963. I conclude by identifying high priorities for further research.


Hart, David. “Business Is Not an Interest Group (And, By the Way, There’s No Such Thing as ‘Business’): On the Study of Companies in American National Politics.” KSG Faculty Research Working Papers Series RWP02-032, August 2002.