Are firms political animals? In other words, what is the relationship between business and politics? Some used to think that business and political operate in two different realms. Politicians care about the general good and receive a popular mandate to do so. Business, on the other hand, would simply system oriented to achieve certain economic objectives.
But, it is easy to find many instances in which business engage in politics. First, many businesses try to influence politics to obtain, for example, favorable regulatory outcomes. But, sometimes business takes the role of government developing standards that preempt the development of new regulation. Or, businesses decide to address social and economic problems that one would have thought were to be addressed by government, e.g. child labor prevention in Asia.
But, to these examples, today I came across a new interesting one. Today, some US multinationals had reacted to President Trump order to ban entry into the US of citizens of seven (majoritarian Muslim) countries by offering some countermeasures:
- Starbucks is to hire 10,000 refugees
- Airbnb service is offering free housing to banned passengers
- Lyft is donating $1 million over the next 4 years to the American Civil Liberties Union
One can probably still find some economic rationale behind these actions, but nonetheless coming come out publicly at a moment where Trump’s order is being discussed all over the world, shouldn’t that be classified as a political action?