Betting on winner: the effect of local elections on corporate political activity outcomes
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How can managers successfully access political rents by way of corporate political strategies (CPA)? Existing research has suggested several endogenous factors that correlate with CPA outcomes. I offer a more robust solution to this problem. Drawing on insights from the perspective of CPA as exchanges between firms and political decision-makers, and from the special interest politics of political economy, I develop and test a causal mechanism that links local elections, legislative bargaining and access to political rents at the national level. I conducted a natural experiment using regression discontinuity design and propensity score matching in municipal elections in Brazil to show that firms enjoy superior access to subsidized financing from the state-owned national development bank (BNDES) when they decide to invest in municipalities whose winning mayoral candidate is coalition-aligned with the national ruler. This effect fades away fades away as the level of competition in the local election decreases. The evidence implies that when managers bet on national coalition-aligned winners in close local elections, they positively affect CPA outcomes. I extend the exchange-based typology of corporate political strategies by offering a novel possibility of targeting voters with financial inducements, which I call a private local development strategy. Finally, these results show that firms exchange their project-execution capabilities for superior access to subsidized financing.