Political Behavior

, Volume 40, Issue 4, pp 1011–1034 | Cite as

Beliefs About Corporate America and the Structure of Opinions Toward Privatization

  • Mark D. Ramirez
  • Paul G. Lewis
Original Paper


This research analyzes the individual-level factors associated with public support for the private provision of public goods and services. Given that privatization requires the transfer of authority from public to private entities, we argue that beliefs about private companies are an important and overlooked source of heterogeneity in explaining public policy preferences toward privatization. We test this expectation using survey data from the 2014 Cooperative Congressional Election Study. We find that support for privatization is associated with positive beliefs about the motivation of private companies and with favorable views about corporate accountability relative to the accountability of government. Opposition to privatization is associated with beliefs about corporate influence in politics. Preferences for limited government are also associated with support for privatization. These results highlight the potential for beliefs about private companies to serve as a group heuristic in political reasoning and the ability of citizens to make reasoned choices on complex public policy issues.


Privatization Heuristics Corporate America Approval Policy preferences Ideology 



We are grateful for the helpful comments provided by four anonymous reviewers and the editor. This work was supported by the National Science Foundation, Award #1430505. Replication code and data are available on the Political Behavior Dataverse within the Harvard Dataverse Network at

Supplementary material

11109_2017_9434_MOESM1_ESM.pdf (235 kb)
Supplementary material 1 (PDF 234 kb)


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.School of Politics and Global StudiesArizona State UniversityTempeUSA

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