Stockholms universitet

John MurrayForskare

Om mig

John Murray is an Associate Professor at Stockholm Business School. His main research interest is in how business participates in the politics through practices such as lobbying, financial donations and forms of public advocacy. In recent times he has had a particular focus on how business engage on issues of environmental policy. He is currently part of, a multi-institutional collaboration funded by Horizon Europe on rebalancing business and democracy which investigates how companies influence democratic processes, whether by undermining or strengthening democratic principles.


I urval från Stockholms universitets publikationsdatabas

  • Corporate Politics in the Public Sphere: Corporate Citizenspeak in a Mass Media Policy Contest

    2020. Daniel Nyberg, John Murray. Business & society 59 (4), 579-611


    This article connects the previously isolated literatures on corporate citizenship and corporate political activity to explain how firms construct political influence in the public sphere. The public engagement of firms as political actors is explored empirically through a discursive analysis of a public debate between the mining industry and the Australian government over a proposed tax. The findings show how the mining industry acted as a corporate citizen concerned about the common good. This, in turn, legitimized corporate political activity, which undermined deliberation about the common good. The findings explain how the public sphere is refeudalized through corporate manipulation of deliberative processes via what we term corporate citizenspeak—simultaneously speaking as corporate citizens and for individual citizens. Corporate citizenspeak illustrates the duplicitous engagement of firms as political actors, claiming political legitimacy while subverting deliberative norms. This contributes to the theoretical development of corporations as political actors by explaining how corporate interests are aggregated to represent the common good and how corporate political activity is employed to dominate the public sphere. This has important implications for understanding how corporations undermine democratic principles.

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  • Lobbying the Client: The role of policy intermediaries in corporate political activity

    2021. Anna Tyllström, Ohn Murray. Organization Studies 42 (6), 971-991


    Traditionally, CPA scholarship has either assumed away policy intermediaries completely, or depicted them as corporate mouthpieces. Meanwhile, research on policy intermediaries has portrayed actors such as think tanks, PR firms and lobbying firms as far more active and self-interested. Our study investigates this puzzle by attending to the question: 'Whose political agenda is expressed by intermediaries during their lobbying on behalf of corporate clients?' By importing insights from studies of policy intermediaries, and approaching the world of lobbying qualitatively - delving deep into the 'how' and 'why' of corporate lobbying using ethnographic field data and interviews with corporate lobbyists - we provide a different, more fine-grained picture of the lobbyist-client relationship, in which policy intermediaries shape, adapt and even invent their clients' agendas. Our study contributes CPA scholarship by (1) providing an analytical distinction between the political agendas of corporate clients and those of their lobbyists, (2) bringing further detail and modification to Barley's theory of an institutional field of political influence and (3) identifying agency problems between client and lobbyist as a novel explanation for why the financial profitability of CPA investment has been difficult to verify. Moreover, the study brings further sophistication to a burgeoning literature on policy intermediaries by suggesting that lobbyists' own professional characteristics - such as length of political experience and strength of political convictions - influence how independently of their clients they dare to act.

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  • Industry vs. Government: Leveraging Media Coverage in Corporate Political Activity

    2021. John Murray, Daniel Nyberg. Organization Studies 42 (10), 1629-1650


    This article investigates how an industry leveraged media coverage to publicly oppose governmental policy.Based on a frame analysis of the political contest between the mining industry and the Australian governmentover a proposed tax on resource corporations, we show how the industry aligned its position with massmedia to (a) make the policy contest salient, (b) frame their position in the contest as legitimate and(c) construct negative representations of the policy as dominant. The analysis reveals how the industry’scorporate political activities leveraged media coverage to align disparate frames into a consistent messageagainst the policy in the public sphere. This contributes to the literature on corporate political activity byexplaining the process of alignment with mass media frames to legitimize corporate positions on salientissues. Second, we contribute to the framing literature by demonstrating the process of frame alignmentbetween non-collaborative actors. Finally, we contribute to the broader discussion on corporations’ role insociety by showing how corporate campaigns can leverage the media to facilitate the favourable settlementof contentious issues. These contributions highlight the pitfalls of corporate political influence withoutnecessary democratic standards.

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  • Datafied corporate political activity: Updating corporate advocacy for a digital era

    2021. John Murray, Mikkel Flyverbom. Organization


    Digital transformations have significant consequences for organizational attempts to shape their environments. Our focus is on how corporate political activity evolves in ways that require us to pay more attention to how information gets structured in digital spaces, and on how information ecosystems operate and shape strategic communication activities in organizational settings. We outline these digital transformations, offer a focus on corporate political activity as informational and develop a typology of datafied corporate political activity techniques to illustrate how the workings of digital spaces shape political issues more concretely. This serves to highlight the necessity of extending the focus of informational corporate political activity beyond the contents of overt and direct messages to include the more covert and subtle forms of influence made possible through the strategic structuring of information itself. This also contributes to our understanding of the political significance of corporate political activity, which is less about influencing political issues by composing appealing messages and distributing them to relevant audiences, and more about influencing political issues by organizing digital information and feeding algorithms. We suggest that such datastructures and algorithmic forms of sorting will become as important as message contents, and that datafied advocacy will become a central component of corporate political activity and other organizational activities.

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