NATURE OR NURTURE?
COMPANY PREFERENCES FOR
NATIONAL HEALTH REFORM
CORPORATE ANXIETY about economic growth is like a recurring nightmare, yet business managers cope with this primal fear in varied fashion. One person's palliative is another's quackery. Chapter 2 surveyed business's historical debates over social policy and growth. Some leaders of industry joined government and labor in supporting social legislation, while others rejected it as damaging to economic prosperity. Although managers' regard for growth may be enduring and archetypal, their view of the relationship between growth and social policy is more indeterminate.
Historical and cross-national examples indicate a willingness among corporations to consider social solutions to economic problems but tell us little about how, when, and why it arises. When do social policies gain significant backing from business? How do new ideas win corporate confidence? What is the process by which managers become involved in the political realm?
Skeptics want evidence. And social scientists—like stockbrokers, parole officers, and weather forecasters—must isolate the factors essential to prediction. This chapter moves us from exploring the possible to questioning the probable, and to isolating the factors that bring some companies to connect social policy with economic growth. Specifically, this chapter surveys the economic and institutional characteristics that lead Fortune 200 companies to endorse employer mandates for health benefits.
In this chapter I show that certain institutional characteristics make companies more likely to encounter high-performance workplace arguments and, hence, to favor government policies to expand human capital investment. First, companies with a functional role within the firm for policy experts (that is, those companies maintaining government affairs offices in Washington, D.C.) are significantly more likely to favor employer mandates. Second, firms' participation in politically focused groups significantly enhances support for employer mandates. Finally, legacies of frustrating private interventions, while not statistically significant, seem to enhance a company's willingness to embrace government policy.