What can an organization do to survive when its existence is a problem for political institutions? Drawing information from China’s futures market, we address this question through analysing forms of corporate political activity (CPA) among the nation’s ‘red capitalists’, notably using CPA concepts to decode power dynamics between Chinese financial organizations and the state. Deploying a multi-method, longitudinal and reflexive case approach, we explain how a ‘rogue’ futures exchange was targeted by a major regulatory crackdown, yet ostensibly survived; principally by negotiating new forms of institutional control. This saw the enrolling of state actors and resources to shape politically acceptable forms of corporate behaviour, a process framed theoretically through the concept of voluntary co-optation; or the strategic steps the focal organization took to yield power to the state in return for enhanced corporate legitimacy. Constructing a two-phase empirical account, including detailed diagrammatic explanations, the paper assesses how a range of lobbying-oriented and guanxi-related practices influenced the organization in repositioning and reconstructing itself through progressive strategic acquiescence, as forces of political capital (‘whom you know’) and intellectual capital (‘what you know’) combined to shape the firm’s decision responses and bolster its functional credibility amid a hostile institutional climate.
|Publication status||Published - 24 Feb 2022|
- China; corporate political activity; futures markets; guanxi; red capitalism; strategic acquiescence; voluntary co-optation