Corporate political activity and free riding under market uncertainty: An investigation of TARP funding
Given that the benefits of Corporate Political Activity (CPA) are usually granted in the form of favorable industry regulation that benefits all industry participants rather than a single firm, small politically inactive firms are often able to take advantage of the benefits from CPA without investing in them. We argue that the free‐riding problem is context specific. Situations of extreme uncertainty create institutional voids that enable individual firms to more fully appropriate the returns from their CPA. In this paper, we examine the influence that CPA had on the U.S. government’s disbursements of TARP funding in 2008. We find that politically active firms were able to avoid the free‐rider problem by obtaining more instances of TARP funding when compared to firms that were not politically active. In addition to being more likely to receive TARP funds, politically active firms received larger amounts of TARP funding than those firms who were not politically active.