The corporate political activities of multinational enterprises: the automotive industry and environmental regulations in the European Union

Research output: ThesisDoctoral Thesis


Society's concern over the negative impact of business activities on the natural environment has significantly increased and, as a result, environmental regulations have grown considerably both in number and scope. As these policies affect businesses and their competitive environment, firms are interested in shaping the nature of such legislation through corporate political activities (CPAs). This thesis investigates the CPAs of MNEs in the automotive industry that are directed towards environmental regulations in the EU. Using the resource-based view as its theoretical framework, it investigates six research questions that address the characteristics, determinants and consequences of these CPAs in relation to three regulatory areas (pollutant emissions, CO2 emissions and end-of-life vehicles). Case study analysis is based on 71 interviews with stakeholders from the automotive industry (the entire population of 11 MNEs from the Triad regions that are politically active in Brussels) and related industries, EU institutions and civil society organisations, representing the societal triangle (market, state, civil society). The thesis finds that the 11 automotive firms engage in CPAs to inform policymakers, and because of the impact that regulations have on their businesses. Whilst the firms attempt a cooperative approach, in reality this is not always the case: whereas individual company and association activities should lead to a united voice, this does not occur when it comes to important company-specific technologies and particular environmental policies. These regulations are viewed by companies as both a costly burden and as opportunities, though non-corporate respondents perceive that MNEs see them only as costs. The main (political) resources and competences used in CPAs are found to be human resources (including the related resources of expertise, contacts, trust and reputation, i.e. social capital), and technological resources. Regulations and the technological resources influencing CPAs are directly and uniquely linked to the product portfolios of MNEs. These differences in technological resources and product ranges account for most of the variance in MNEs‟ CPAs rather than the respective countries of origin within the Triad.
Original languageEnglish
Awarding Institution
  • Loughborough University
Award date17 Jun 2011
Print ISBNs978-3659161704
Electronic ISBNs3659161705
Publication statusPublished - 17 Jun 2011

Cite this