Corporate Political Activity




Clarence Nickman Assistant Professor of Management

Project Summary

This summer I had the opportunity to participate in a project studying corporate political activity within the judicial branch of government under the mentorship of Dr. Mary McDonnell of the Wharton Management Department. The project I am helping with focuses specifically on determining predictors and consequences of corporate spending on judicial elections.

The initial steps for this project involved determining a set of candidates for this study; the scope of our research focuses on 1012 companies that appeared on the Fortune 500 list between 2000 and 2018. Having determined the candidates, we determined a standardized method to help with cross-referencing datasets by assigning GVKEYs, a six-digit number key taken from the Capital IQ Compustat database, as well as internally referencing companies by rank on a randomly sorted list.

My objective was to compile and help code proprietary data based on the determined list of companies. I dedicated the first half of this summer’s work to examining the Goodjobs violations tracker, a database developed by the Corporate Research Project of Good Jobs First which provides access to civil and criminal case records and penalty amounts by case. The second half of this summer was dedicated to compiling legal cases against firms of interest in Westlaw, a database providing data on jury verdicts and settlements.

My PURM experience has been instrumental in supplementing my studies as a Philosophy, Politics and Economics (PPE) major and in my career interests in law and business. Through this project, I was able to develop research skills in assessing legal and financial data provided by proprietary databases. As this project is still in its initial stages, I am excited to see where the analysis of the compiled data thus far will take this project forward in finding correlations between increased corporate spending, the judicial election system, and verdicts on cases.