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It’s not all about the Money – What (other) Resources do Interest Groups have and how do they affect Representation?

Comparative Politics
Interest Groups
Representation
Lobbying
Linda Flöthe
Departments of Political Science and Public Administration, Universiteit Leiden
Linda Flöthe
Departments of Political Science and Public Administration, Universiteit Leiden

Abstract

Interest groups are often seen as important sources of information for policymakers. They provide information on technical details and are also often portrayed as transmission belts of public preferences as they inform policymakers about these. However, little is known about the capacities and resources needed to supply information. Existing scholarship argues that financial resources enhance an organization’s capacity of supplying information. Following the argument that information transmission is also a means of representation, this could be problematic as it suggests that resource rich groups are better equipped to both pressure and advice policymakers, which could pose a threat to representation. However, applying a resource perspective to informational lobbying, this paper argues that different information types require different resources and that financial resources may be less important than often assumed. For example, actors informing about public preferences may not need economic resources, but can benefit from public support or their mobilizing power which could allow to overcome some of the economic disadvantages they face. The predictions are tested using a new dataset and survey of advocates that were active on 50 specific policy issues in five West European countries. In contrast to previous studies that used organizational budget as a proxy for resources, the paper considers a broader set of resources. By studying the actual resources an actor devoted to an issue compared to his/her general monetary capacities the paper is able to tease out how different types of resources matter for information provision.