How your boss can influence your political beliefs

Jessica Morris
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Managers often decry how hard it is to "get inside" their employees' heads, but when it comes to politics they appear to be doing it with relative ease.

A new paper released earlier this month entitled "Do CEOs affect employees' political choices?" found that a chief executive's political beliefs can result in their workers contributing three times more to their preferred candidates.

It added that in the 2012 presidential race workers whose bosses supported only President Obama donated $287,920 (£222,117) to his campaign and $80,855 to rival Mitt Romney. At firms whose bosses backed Republican nominee Romney, employees donated $972,442 to Obama but more than $1.5m to Romney.

Four reasons for this

"The effect of chief executive contributions on political donations by employees is not explained by common economic or geographic factors," it said.

Moreover, this effect persists around chief executive turnovers, including turnovers caused by death or natural retirement, as employees start to contribute less to the candidates supported by the departing chief executive and more to the candidates supported by the replacement chief executive.

Further, chief executives have greater influence on employee contributions to candidates that have direct jurisdiction over the firm and during recessions, when political participation is most valuable.

"These results suggest that firms with the greatest potential benefits from political activism may be more likely to try to influence their employees' political choices."

The study by Ilona Babenko, Viktar Fedaseyeu and Song Zhang looked at a sample 2,507 firms between 1999 and 2014.

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