Corporate Political Activity

Students

Wharton

Faculty

Clarence Nickman Assistant Professor of Management

Project Summary

This Summer, I worked with my mentor, Professor Mary McDonnell, on a project that seeks to explore and analyze the causes and effects of corporate judicial activity. For instance, we wanted to see if there was a link between corporations that were defendants often and the frequency that they directly or indirectly donated to judicial campaigns. Specifically, I helped to code up data on an initial list of donations made to judicial campaigns within the past two decades. Data was pulled from FollowTheMoney.Org, a website created by the nonpartisan nonprofit National Institute of Money in Politics that compiles data of campaign-donor, lobbyist and other information from government disclosure agencies. I then created a subset of data from the large list of donations that included donations linked to around 1000 target companies we chose to analyze. (These companies were chosen because they were all the distinct companies that appeared on the Fortune 500 list since 2001.)

In addition, I also pulled data from Westlaw of law cases where the companies in question were named defendants. This required manual sorting of cases to eliminate superfluous data points or cases in which the company was dismissed before trial.

The work I did with Professor McDonnell not only helped sharpen my data collection skills and organizational abilities, but I also appreciated that she constantly painted a bigger picture of the research questions we were trying to answer. Working with another research assistant also proved to be great for collaboration and gave me more experience in how to work in a team toward a common goal.

I gained both quantitative skills but also absorbed valuable qualitative thinking abilities in the process, and have become more interested in business law as a result!