Abstract: American Corporate Mobilization and Conservative Politics in the 1970s

Kimberley Phillips-Fein


This paper argues that American corporations became more interested in finding ways to influence legislators and also the broader public debate about business in America in the early 1970s. This expressed itself in terms of the revitalization of business organizations like the United States Chamber of Commerce and also in the formation of new organizations like the Business Roundtable, as well as in the upsurge of involvement in think tanks like the American Enterprise Institute. I suggest that ultimately, the Reagan campaign for the presidency in 1980 was able to capitalize upon this increased level of business activity in politics. I also suggest that historians need to pay more attention to the relationship between this political mobilization of business and other aspects of the conservative movement, like the spread of cultural conservatism.