Influence, Selection, and Activity: Social Structure and Processes in Medicare Lobbying and Agenda Setting.

John Scott, Department of Public Policy - University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill
By what process do interest group representatives select the issues on which they lobby the Congress? Any one policy area often has dozens or even hundreds of proposed bills and equally as many interest groups and stakeholders. In a crowded and competitive environment, lobbyists may look to other lobbyists when selecting issues for monitoring and lobbying in order to lower the costs of policy advocacy. And despite the number, diversity, and fluidity of interest types and for-hire lobbyists, Medicare policy has a core of representatives who are connected to each other through client relationships. The presence of this core implies an interconnected community in which information flows freely. The broad research question of this paper is whether social processes matter in the formation of interest group agendas. Specifically, do the choices of one lobbying organization affect the choices of another organization? To answer this question, I use longitudinal lobbying data about the legislative choices of interest groups from the Medicare & Medicaid policy domain. To capture the social interdependence of lobbying, I study the evolution of a network consisting of lobbyists and their clients choosing (or not choosing) legislative proposals on which to lobby. I analyze these selections by using stochastic actor-based dynamic model of network change with a focus on legislative choices that are conditioned on the choices of other organizations. The results suggest that a selection or ‘bandwagon’ effect in which organizations choose bills that are already popular and a social influence effect in which choices by a lobbying organization are likely influenced by another organization when the two organizations have overlapping agendas.
February, 5 2013 | 12:30 - 2:00 | 329 Soc/Psych Building (McKinney Room)

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