Corporate Assertiveness

June 30, 1978

Report Outline
Business on Public Issues
Evolution of Business Power
Trends for Business and State
Special Focus

Business on Public Issues

Victories in Congress and New Optimism

American business is on a political winning streak. Business interests appear more confident of their political clout than at any time in recent years, and in many cases they are shedding their usual low-profile approach to public issues. The list of business victories in the 95th Congress includes defeat of attempts to create a consumer protection agency, defeat of “common situs” picketing (allowing a labor dispute in one part of a construction project to close the entire project), delays in clean-up schedules under amendments to the 1970 Clean Air Act, defeat of proposals to strengthen Federal Trade Commission procedures, an easing of restrictions on business participation in the Arab boycott of Israel, and the prospect of defeating the AFL-CIO's chief legislative proposal, the labor law reform bill to make union organizing easier.

All this is heady stuff for the business community that long has been pessimistic about its power to persuade. Frequently business leaders have regarded themselves as members of an oppressed minority. Writer-scholar Irving Kristol, in a critical but generally sympathetic account of American business mores, writes of the businessman's bunker mentality. “On any single day, all over the country,” he wrote in Two Cheers for Capitalism, “there are gatherings of corporate executives in which bewilderment and vexation are expressed at the climate of hostility toward business to be found in Washington, or in the media, or in academia — or even, incredibly, among their own children.”

Critics of big business have argued that this unfavorable image is frequently the product of corporate misbehavior. Some recent examples they cite: illegal campaign contributions by Gulf Oil Corp., bribes of foreign officials by Lockheed Aircraft Corp., and insensitivity to worker safety and the environment by Allied Chemical Corp. S. Prakash Sethi, director of the Center for Research in Business and Social Policy at the University of Texas, an expert on business advocacy advertising, recently said that business's image will not improve unless there is “a gradual change in the behavior of business institutions where current methods of operation and standards of performance fall short of the expectation of large segments of society.”

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Dec. 15, 1989  Getting a Grip on Influence Peddling
Jun. 20, 1986  Think Tanks
Sep. 26, 1980  Special-Interest Politics
Jun. 30, 1978  Corporate Assertiveness
Dec. 13, 1950  Revision of the Lobby Act
May 08, 1946  Congressional Lobbying
Mar. 07, 1928  Regulation of Congressional Lobbies
Jun. 06, 1925  Trade Associations and the Law
Antitrust and Monopolies
Commercial Law