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Actors, Interests and Lobbying
Administration and Governance
Administrative Law and Constitutional Checks on the Executive
All-Powerful Leaders?: The Concentration of Power in Modern Executives
Bureaucracy and the Formulation of Public Policy
Canadian Intergovernmental Structures and Operating Processes
Conceptual and Theoretical Foundations of Third Sector Governance and Management
Courts, Judicial Review, Rights and Democracy
Emergence of the Nation State
Executive Authority, Cabinet and Leadership
Executive Leadership in Government
Executive-Legislative Relations
Federal-Provincial Fiscal Relations
Federal-Provincial-Municipal Relations
Game Theory and Rational Institutionalism
Indigenous Rights and Institutions
Institutional Architecture: Federalism
Institutional Designs and Paths
Machinery of Government
Media, Framing and Agenda Setting
New Public Management
Parliamentary, Presidential and Decentralized Unitary Systems
Political and Administrative Responsibilities
Political and Administrative Responsibilities
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Probing the Accuracy of Rational Decision Making Models: Alternative Accounts
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Representation and Accountability
Representation and Responsiveness
Representation, Accountability and Policy
The Architecture of the Canadian State
The Bureaucracy and Bureaucratic Behaviour
The Changing Role of the State
The Democratic Deficit: Ethics, Responsiveness and Performance
The International Context of Domestic Institutions
The Policy Cycle
The Political Context of Policy Making
Weber: Rationalization and Bureaucracy
Westminster Parliamentary Systems
Who are the Players in the Policy Process?


A Teaching Topic in Democratic Institutions and Policy Process

Actors, Interests and Lobbying

This topic examines the role of the various actors, interests and lobbyists who are involved in shaping policy outcomes. It considers the ways that different type of institutions respond when the interests of different influential actors are in conflict. This topic assesses theories, including game theory and rational choice, that attempt to explain the behaviour of various actors in the policy process and stakeholders (Toronto PPG 1001). It looks at how these theories have unfolded in terms of how policy is made in reality (Michigan 510). It examines the attributes and preferences of relevant actors and interests and the limits they face. It assesses the relative power of different actors and the interactions between them (Michigan 510).

Core Concepts associated with this Topic: Knowledge Networks; Regulatory Capture; Third Sector; Stakeholders; Epistemic Community; Policy Actor; Policy Community; Moral Suasion; Public Interest Group; Social Movement; Think-Tanks; Advocacy Group; Civil Society; Interest Aggregation; Interest Group; Iron Triangle; Lobbying.

Topic Learning Outcome: Upon mastering this topic, students will understand how various actors seek to influence the policy process, and will recognize why situations in which there are heavily concentrated costs but widely diffused benefits often produce sub-optimal policy outcomes in terms of overall public welfare. Students will understand the responsibilities of public servants in terms of mediating the demands of competing interests as well as the interests of the general public.

Recommended Reading

Toronto PPG 1001 The Policy Process

Boatright, Robert G. 2009. “Interest Group Adaptations to Campaign Finance Reform in Canada and the United States.” Canadian Journal of Political Science 42, 1: 17-43.


Hacker, Jacob S. and Paul Pierson. 2010. “Winner-Take-All Politics: Public Policy, Political Organization, and the Precipitous Rise of Top Incomes in the United States.” Politics and Society 38, 2: 152-204.


Kingdon, John W. 1995. Agendas, Alternatives, and Public Policies. 2nd ed. New York: Addison Wesley Longman. Chapter 8: 165-195.


Steinmo, Sven. 1995. “Why is Government So Small in America?” Governance 8, 3: 303-334.


Hall, Peter A. and Rosemary C.R. Taylor. 1996. “Political Science and the Three New Institutionalisms.” Political Studies 64: 936-957.


Lemann, Nicholas. 2008. “Conflict of Interests.” The New Yorker (11 August). McFarland, Andrew S. 2007. “Neopluralism.” Annual Review of Political Science 10: 45-66.


Smith, Martin J. “Pluralism, Reformed Pluralism and Neopluralism: The Role of Pressure Groups in Policy-Making.” Political Studies 38: 302-332.


Winters, Jeffrey A. and Benjamin I. Page. 2009. “Oligarchy in the United States?” Perspectives on Politics 7, 4: 731-751.

Michigan: PubPol 510 The Politics of Public Policy

Actors: IGOs and Regional Organizations

Mansfield and Milner “ The New Wave of Regionalism” International Organization (1999), 53: 589-627.

Bourename, Naceur. 2002. “Regional Integration in Africa: Situation and Prospects,” in Regional Integration in Africa (Paris: OECD), pp. 17 - 43.

Blandy, Richard. 2005. “Executive Summary and Synthesis,” in Regional Integration in the Asia Pacific: Issues and Prospects (Paris: OECD, 2005), pp. 9 - 24.

Actors: NGOs and Advocacy Networks

Keck, Margaret E. and Kathryn Sikkink, Activists Beyond Borders: Advocacy Networks in  International Politics . Ithaca, NY: Cornell  University Press, 1998, pages 1 – 38.

Reimann, K. D. “A View from the Top: International Politics, Norms and the Worldwide Growth of NGOs”  International Studies Quarterly , 2006, 50: 45 – 68.

Naim, Moises. “Al Qaeda, the NGO” Foreign Policy March/April 2002, 99 - 100. October 11.

Pankaj, Ghemawat Actors: States and Sovereignty “Why the World Isn’t Flat,” Foreign Policy, March/April 2007, pp. 54 - 60.

Krasner, Steve “Sovereignty”, Foreign Policy irs_jan_2001.pdf

ICISS, “The Responsibility to Protect” (Skim only)

Carlson, Allen “Constructing the Dragon's Scales” Journal of Contemporary China

Violent Non-State Actors

Horowitz, Michael and Potter, Philip B.K. “Allying to Kill: Terrorist Intergroup Cooperation and the Consequences for Lethality.” Working Paper for Journal of Conflict Resolution.

Potter, Philip B.K. “Terrorism and Two Chinas.” Working Paper. October 3, 2012

George Washington: PPPA 6001 Introduction to Public Administration and Public Service

The Federalist Papers, Numbers: 51.

Shafritz and Hyde. Chapter by Lowi Wilson, James Q. “Interest,” Chapter 5. Bureaucracy. Basic Books, 1989: 72-89.

Rutgers: 34:833:510 Public Policy Formation

Baumer, Donald C. and Carl Van Horn. 2013. Politics and Public Policy, 4th Edition. Washington, DC: CQ Press. Chapters 9-10.

Truman. "Group Politics and Representative Democracy." Retrieved from

Schattschneider, E.E. 1957. "Intensity, Visibility, Direction, and Scope." American Political Science Review 51(4): 933-346.

Harvard: DPI 101 Political Institutions and Public Policy

Michael Alvarez, Geoffrey Garrett, and Peter Lange, 1991, “Government Partisanship, Labor Organization and Macroeconomic Performance,” American Political Science Review 85(2), pp. 539-556.

Martin Rhodes, 2001, “The Political Economy of Social Pacts: Competitive Corporatism and European Welfare Reform,” in Paul Pierson, The New Politics of the Welfare State, Oxford University Press, pp. 165-194.

Syllabi Cited

Toronto: PPG 1001 The Policy Process

Michigan: PubPol 510 The Politics of Public Policy

George Washington: PPPA 6001 Introduction to Public Administration and Public Service

Rutgers: 34:833:510 Public Policy Formation

Harvard: DPI 101 Political Institutions and Public Policy

Possible Assessment Questions:

  1. What is lobbying?
  2. Who are some of the key actors, outside of government, who can influence policy outcomes?
  3. Provide one example of an organized interest group successfully contributing to a policy change or legislative outcome.
  4. Why are some interest groups and policy actors more successful in driving change than others?

Page created by: Sean Goertzen and Ben Eisen last edited on 18 May 2014


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