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Management article
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Reference no. R1411J
Authors: Brian Richter
Published by: Harvard Business Publishing
Originally published in: "Harvard Business Review", 2014
Version: 1 November 2014
Revision date: 18-Nov-2014

Abstract

This HBR Case Study includes both the case and the commentary. For teaching purposes, this Reprint is also available in two other versions: case study-only and commentary-only. Natural Foods, a midsize chain of organic grocery stores, has chosen to donate to a super PAC that plans to fund ads promoting political candidates with strong pro-business platforms. When one of those candidates takes a controversial stance against gay marriage and news of the company's connection to him is exposed, customers and employees stage protests and ask the company to reconsider its policy on campaign contributions. One board member urges the CEO to get out of politics completely, but the head of government relations believes that the company just needs to be more strategic about how it makes political donations. Can the company have the political influence it needs without making campaign contributions? With commentary from Ken Cohen, the vice president of public and government affairs for Exxon Mobil, and John Harrington, the president and CEO of Harrington Investments.
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Abstract

This HBR Case Study includes both the case and the commentary. For teaching purposes, this Reprint is also available in two other versions: case study-only and commentary-only. Natural Foods, a midsize chain of organic grocery stores, has chosen to donate to a super PAC that plans to fund ads promoting political candidates with strong pro-business platforms. When one of those candidates takes a controversial stance against gay marriage and news of the company's connection to him is exposed, customers and employees stage protests and ask the company to reconsider its policy on campaign contributions. One board member urges the CEO to get out of politics completely, but the head of government relations believes that the company just needs to be more strategic about how it makes political donations. Can the company have the political influence it needs without making campaign contributions? With commentary from Ken Cohen, the vice president of public and government affairs for Exxon Mobil, and John Harrington, the president and CEO of Harrington Investments.

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