I am currently working on the following research projects.
Corporate Elites and US Politics
For the past four years, Anthony J. Nownes (University of Tennessee) and I have been working on a project to examine the role of the founders and CEOs of Silicon Valley firms in US politics. Later this year our book, , The New Entrepreneurial Advocacy: Silicon Valley Elites in American Politics, is out with Oxford University Press. It provides a deep dive into the political engagement of this important slice of corporate America.
Transnational corporations, global governance and credible commitments to sustainable development
Lisa Dellmuth (Stockholm University) and I are investigating the commitments of transnational corporations to sustainable development outcomes globally. It is increasingly accepted that forms of private governance, driven by the direct actions of firms, are crucial to achieving positive sustainability outcomes. Indeed, some corporations have, independently of states, already engaged rhetorically and substantively in private governance activities supporting sustainability policies. But why then do some transnational companies engage in sustainable leadership, pursuing public goods such as sustainable development, while others do not?
In this project we are building a corporation-level data set that documents commitments to sustainability made by firms. Empirically, we seek to extrapolate a pattern of sustainable leadership across companies, issue areas, world regions, and over time. Theoretically, we seek to push forward the debate about the role of private actors in global environmental governance by conceptualising the notion of ‘credible commitments’ to corporate sustainable leadership.
Donations, interests and influence in Australian politics
Shaun Ratcliff (University of Sydney) and I are engaged in a project to document political donations to Australian political parties. Unprecedented attention is being paid to the size of donations – directly or via associated entities – to political parties, and their influence on the decisions made by elected officials. There is ever present discussion of ‘dark money’, ‘pay for play’ politics and donations for access and influence. The media consistently run stories outlining single instances where donations one day seem to run into advantageous government decisions the next. These ‘gotcha’ moments are undoubtedly important for the public record, but they also have an eroding effect on public trust in government.
We are completing an onerous process of (consistently) collating and coding all Australian Electoral Commission (AEC) political donations data since records were first kept (in 1998), including direct donations, and those via associated entities. We are currently working on two journal manuscripts using these data: one focuses on the relationships between organised interests and parties, while the other examines corporate donations.
Crowdsourcing Political Engagement
Ariadne Vromen (University of Sydney) and I are finalising our ARC funded project examining the transformation of political activism and citizen-led campaigning in the digital age in Australia. The project focuses on how crowdsourced forms of political engagement are facilitated by digital tools that let citizens share political information and calls to action. In particular it identifies the extent and character of crowdsourcing e-tactics: petitioning, boycotting, buycotting, and micro-donations. We are currently in the process of writing a book manuscript together.