Corporate political activity has been on the rise for the past 15 years. While the literature on business-government relations has described the growing corporate interest in politics, insufficient attention has been devoted to the political strategies of individual firms. This article explores one political strategy available to companies—a strategy we call corporate political entrepreneurship. We argue that firms can create political advantage for themselves by adopting policies that are analogous to those used by business entrepreneurs in the marketplace. After defining the characteristics of the corporate political entrepreneur, we explore the strategies of two companies, American Express and MCI. American Express developed an issue called "trade in services," which turned the company into an important political actor in Washington. MCI used a similar strategy to build a corporate image and to keep the company alive; its political efforts also influenced the direction of government policy in the long distance telecommunications market. The article illustrates how loose alliances and direct involvement of CEOs can be critical for creating political advantage.
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