Business backgrounds and congressional behavior

Christopher Witko, Sally Friedman

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

31 Scopus citations


In the following paper, we analyze whether the behavior of members of Congress with business backgrounds differs from that of other legislators, and we find that it does. Specifically, House members with business backgrounds have closer relationships with business interests (as measured by larger contributions from corporate PACs) and demonstrate more probusiness roll call voting. We also find that members making a direct transition from a business career to the House sponsor more business-focused legislation. The significance of a business background is consistent across different forms of behavior, though the magnitude of effects is generally modest. Our findings contribute to a growing body of literature emphasizing the importance of legislator backgrounds to their behavior in office. Republican Pete Coors brings it up in nearly every campaign speech: There are too many lawyers in the U.S. Senate., His point is that he'd like to see more successful businesspeople running the country the same way they guide their companies. (Florio 2004).

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)71-86
Number of pages16
JournalCongress and the Presidency
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 1 2008

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Sociology and Political Science
  • Political Science and International Relations


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