Generalist Interest Organizations and Interest System Density: A Test of the Competitive Exclusion Hypothesis

30 Pages Posted: 19 Jul 2010 Last revised: 19 Aug 2011

See all articles by David Lowery

David Lowery

Leiden University

Virginia H. Gray

Department of Political Science

Justin Kirkland

Department of Political Science, University of Houston

Jeffrey J. Harden

University of Colorado at Boulder - Department of Political Science

Date Written: 2010

Abstract

We examine the fate of generalist interest organizations as interest communities become more crowded. One of the core ideas of population ecology theory is the notion of competitive exclusion. This hypothesis suggests that through niche partitioning among similar organizations and the comparative advantages of specialist organizations, generalists typically found in heavily populated systems will find it more difficult to secure members than their counterparts in less densely populated ones. It further suggests that the surviving generalists will narrow the focus of their lobbying activities to fewer issues and to those issues on which they have a comparative advantage. We test both hypotheses directly by looking at the mobilization and lobbying focus of U.S. state Chambers of Commerce and find evidence that even these old bulls of the lobbying pasture are powerfully influenced by competition among business interest organizations.

Keywords: Interest Groups, State Politics, Chamber of Commerce, Population Ecology

Suggested Citation

Lowery, David and Gray, Virginia H. and Kirkland, Justin and Harden, Jeffrey J., Generalist Interest Organizations and Interest System Density: A Test of the Competitive Exclusion Hypothesis (2010). APSA 2010 Annual Meeting Paper. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=1642036

David Lowery

Leiden University ( email )

Postbus 9500
Leiden, 2300 RA
Netherlands

Virginia H. Gray

Department of Political Science ( email )

102 Ridge Road
Chapel Hill, NC NC 27514
United States
919-843-5602 (Phone)
919-962-0432 (Fax)

Justin Kirkland (Contact Author)

Department of Political Science, University of Houston ( email )

Houston, TX 77204
United States

Jeffrey J. Harden

University of Colorado at Boulder - Department of Political Science ( email )

333 UCB
Boulder, CO 80309-0333
United States

HOME PAGE: http://spot.colorado.edu/~jeha9919/

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