When do politicians listen to lobbyists (and who benefits when they do)?

Patrick Bernhagen

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

32 Citations (Scopus)


This article provides an empirical test of an informational model of lobbying. The model predicts when lobbyists provide useful information to policy makers and when policy makers follow lobbyists' advice. The predictions are assessed against data on the policy positions and lobbying activities of firms and other organised groups in the context of 28 policy proposals advanced by United Kingdom governments between 2001 and 2007. The results suggest that the interactions between policy makers and lobbyists are driven mainly by the expected policy costs for policy makers, providing lobbyists with strong incentives to provide correct advice to policy makers. There is little support for the expectation that lobbyists can successfully persuade policy makers to take a course of action that is beneficial to the lobbyist at the expense of wider constituencies.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)20-43
Number of pages24
JournalEuropean Journal of Political Research
Issue number1
Early online date7 Jun 2012
Publication statusPublished - Jan 2013

Bibliographical note

This article is based on results from the research project ‘British Business and Public Policy: The Informational and Structural Determinants of Political Influence’ funded by the British Economic and Social Research Council (RES‐000‐22‐2428). Earlier versions were presented at the 5th ECPR General Conference, 10–12 September 2009, Potsdam, Germany; the Mannheim Centre for European Social Research (MZES), Germany, 19 October 2009; the 60th Political Studies Association Annual Conference, 29 March–1 April 2010, Edinburgh, United Kingdom; and the 2nd Conference of the Anglo‐German State of the State Fellowship Programme: Transformations of the State: Interdisciplinary Perspectives, 21 May 2011, Oxford. I thank the participants at these events, as well as Frank Baumgartner, Caelesta Braun, Thomas Bräuninger, David Coen, Darren Halpin, Alan Draper, Alan Greer, Grant Jordan, William Maloney, and four anonymous reviewers for very helpful comments on earlier drafts. Aveek Bhattacharya, Paul Rutherford and Brett Trani provided valuable research assistance.


  • interest groups
  • political influence
  • lobbying
  • asymmetric information
  • signalling games


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