Walking the Talk in Politics and Sustainability: (Mis)Alignment of Corporate Discourse and Lobbying on Environmental and Social Issues




Inizio: Mar 12 | 03:00 pm

Fine : Mar 12 | 04:30 pm

Corporate Social Responsibility |

Via Lambruschini, 4B 20156 Milano MI

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Seminar in presence

Building BL26/B – Room 0.19 (ground floor)
Department of Management, Economics and Industrial Engineering
Via R. Lambruschini, 4/B


Tony L. He
Rutgers Business School, New Jersey



Stakeholders, including consumers, employees, and community members, expect some degree of consistency between a firm’s stated values and actions. A significant disparity between these values and actions can trigger backlash from stakeholders who perceive this misalignment as greenwashing or wokewashing. Many firms now espouse a commitment to the environment or to certain social values, but there is little empirical evidence as to whether this discourse materially alters other political strategies and behaviors. This study examines the alignment between firms’ discourse on environmental and social issues and their political lobbying on the same issues. Our research circumvents empirical constraints in observing the directionality of lobbying activities by focusing on five U.S. states that require firms to disclose their lobbying stances. Our findings indicate a general lack of positive correlation between firms’ discourse (i.e., talk) and their lobbying (i.e., walk) on environmental and social issues. However, governance policies mandating board oversight of political activities and transparency of lobbying enhance alignment between talk and walk. We further explore how characteristics of board composition influence decision-making. These results highlight the importance of the coordinated governance and transparency of corporate political activity for stakeholder relations and accountable capitalism.


Tony L. He is an Assistant Professor in the Management and Global Business Department at Rutgers Business School – Newark and New Brunswick. He is also a Senior Fellow at the Wharton Environmental, Social, and Governance Institute at the University of Pennsylvania. His research interests include corporate political strategies in the US and the EU, firm-stakeholder relationships in conflict environments, corporate social responsibility, and the political economy of international business. Tony received his PhD in Applied Economics from The Wharton School, MBA from Harvard Business School, and BS from Johns Hopkins University.



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