Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

PhD in Business


Department of Management

First Advisor

Martin J. Conyon

Second Advisor

Michael A. Quinn

Third Advisor

Simon Peck


Corporate political activity has been considered an increasingly important component of corporate strategy (Schuler, et al. 2019). Corporate political activity research examines how corporations interact with political officials to attempt to influence their political environment in ways that benefit their economic activity (e.g., Funk & Hirschman, 2017; Lawton, et al. 2013). In this dissertation I present three novel research studies on one area where corporate political activity research is underdeveloped, the presence and impact of government experienced directors, individuals who were either elected or appointed to work for the United States (U.S.) government and then served as a director on an S&P 500 company’s board. Chapter one is an empirical study that presents and scrutinizes hand-collected data on government experienced directors who served on S&P 500 boards over a four-year period, January 1, 2017 until December 31, 2020. Director biographies included in DEF 14A SEC filings from S&P 500 firms were individually examined to identify directors with relevant political experience. This contributes to the literature by providing a complete mapping of former U.S. political figures on S&P 500 boards over a multi-year period and provides a detailed analysis of the market for government experienced directors based on their political party affiliations. In contrast to previous research, I include “non-partisan directors”, those who had served in a qualifying government position without any publicly stated political party affiliation. Including only directors with political experience and an affiliation to either the Democratic or Republican parties provides an incomplete picture of former politicians of corporate boards. Political experience, knowledge, and connections are not exclusive to individuals with affiliations to political parties. By party affiliation, Republican, Democrat, and non-partisan, I compare industries and types of firms where government experienced directors are hired, the board committee roles they were hired for, as well as individual level characteristics, including age, ethnicity, gender, and more. I find that government experienced directors are a common feature of S&P 500 boards. Specifically, there is general heterogeneity between firms and homogeneity within them as firms with more than one government experienced director often hired from the same party. While directors with ties to both major political parties were hired at roughly similar levels, there was variation between parties on the industries where they were hired, the committee roles they held, their political work experience, and several other individual level characteristics. Furthermore, during the study period, the numbers of government experienced directors decreased, and board political party affiliations became more partisan. These findings suggest government experienced directors are hired not only based on their government experience but also for their ideological beliefs. These findings raise concerns from both the agency theory and resource dependency theory perspectives, and lead to questions of the impact of the ideological beliefs of top management teams on other corporate governance activities, especially corporate political activities.