The Two Worlds of Lobbying: The Core-Periphery Structure of the Interest Group System
James Madison University
Herschel F. Thomas III
University of Texas at Austin - Department of Government
University of North Carolina (UNC) at Chapel Hill
January 12, 2012
For decades, political scientists have had two divergent views on lobbyists in Washington. On the one hand they lament the privileged access of a few powerful groups in niches, and on the other they point to highly visible advocacy campaigns where hundreds of lobbyists compete for policymakers’ attention. To resolve this paradox, we conceive the interest group system as a complex network of lobbyists that accommodates both observations. If lobbyists’ decisions to participate in policy domains are interdependent, then we should simultaneously observe niche lobbying in many domains and disproportionately high levels of lobbying in a select few. Using a dataset of 293,631 disclosure reports, we find an extreme-value distribution of lobbying activities and uncover two distinct worlds of lobbying: one at the core where well-connected revolving door lobbyists represent a greater diversity of interests, and one at the periphery where conventional lobbyists operate in relative obscurity.
Number of Pages in PDF File: 40working papers series
Date posted: April 6, 2013
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