The process for advocacy groups and policymakers of finding a decision setting that offers the best prospects for reaching one’s policy goals.
(Pralle, 2003, p. 234.)
Scholar Sarah Pralle describes venue shopping as follows: “Advocacy groups or policymakers who want to change policy are often frustrated by biases within institutional venues where key decisions about a policy are made. One strategy for overcoming such biases is to shop for an alternative venue and attempt to move decision-making authority to a new policy arena. If successful, a change in venue can lead to substantive policy change, due in part to the participation of new actors, the adoption of new rules, and the promotion of new policy images, or understandings, of an issue. Venue shopping strategies are important to understand, then, because of their impact on processes of policy change.” (234)
Pralle reaches a number of conclusions about venue shopping. Firstly, it can often be an experimental process, rather than a calculated, deliberate and strategic decision. Secondly, for advocacy groups, organizational needs and characteristics influence the choice of venues in addition to strategic choices about reaching core policy objectives. Lastly, she suggests that advocacy groups choose venues not only for short-term strategic reasons, but in response to the shaping of new understanding of the nature of a policy problem. (234)
As an example, she describes the course of action taken by environmental groups in British Columbia protesting the logging of Clayoquot Sound during the 1980s and 1990s. After ineffectually targeting their advocacy efforts at local politicians, logging companies and the Ministry of Forests for more than a decade, the Clayoquot abandoned these policy venues in the early 1990s. Their strategy changed to one of building international awareness of the logging practices through mass, non-violent protest in efforts to build public support, and to put pressure on provincial political actors and industry to address their concerns. Faced with widespread public opposition and the threat of significant reputational damage, logging operations were stopped in Clayoquot Sound. (244-247)
Pralle, Sarah B. (2003) “Venue Shopping, Political Strategy and Policy Change: The Internationalization of Canadian Forest Advocacy.” Journal of Public Policy 23:3.