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Representation Bias in a Multi-Level Governance Context: Congruence between European Interest Associations' Policy Agendas and Policy Agendas of their (Domestic) Members

Democracy
European Politics
Governance
Interest Groups
Policy Analysis
Public Policy
Representation
Martina Vukasovic
Universitetet i Bergen
Martina Vukasovic
Universitetet i Bergen

Abstract

In multi-level governance contexts policy decisions are made and interest organizations are active at several governance levels, which may not have clearly delineated jurisdictions (e.g. the EU). The point of departure of this study is that, apart from bias that stems from who mobilizes into interest organizations and which organizations have access to policy-makers, (European) multi-level settings provide opportunities for another kind of representational bias, i.e. the possibility that policy agendas of (European) associations and policy agendas of their (domestic) members do not correspond to each other. Namely, the study focuses on the linkage between citizens’ preferences and European level policy decisions and analyzes in particular on the relationship between policy agendas of domestic interest groups and policy agendas of their European associations. In doing so, it responds to the plea by, among others, Binderkrantz (2015) and Halpin (2014, 2015) who stressed the need to focus on internal organizational dynamics of interest groups and how they come to pursue specific policy goals. The theoretical perspective complements the interest groups literature with insights from: (a) organizational sociology, in particular the meta-organizational perspective (Ahrne & Brunsson, 2008) concerning the internal dynamics of organizations whose members are other organizations, and (b) policy analysis, in particular concerning the distinction between policy issues and policy preferences in policy agendas of interest organizations (Vukasovic, 2017). The approach is illustrated with the analysis of two European associations active in the knowledge policy domain (education and research), a domain of clear strategic importance for the EU but also a domain in which jurisdictions across governance levels are not clearly delineated. This makes knowledge policy domain particularly useful for exploring policy congruence in a (European) multi-level governance context.