Pluralism and Organized Interests, I

Collective Action Theory (M. Olson)

Under-provision of public goods

-        non-rival (I can use it when others do)

-        non-excludable (individuals cannot be denied use)

-        e.g., clean air, national defense, crime reduction

Costly and difficult to organize collective action  

-        Free rider problem

o     Diffuse v. concentrated benefits

o     Privileged groups

-        Enforcement costs for semi-public goods

 Incentives to organize collectively

-        Solidarity motivations or principled (purposive) reasons

o     Social motives in small groups only

-        selective, material incentives beyond good itself

o     e.g., discounts, information to members

Typology of Interest Groups

Pathways of Influence


 Interest Groups v. Lobbyists

-        interest groups: individuals organizing in support of shared interest

o     lobby government

o     advocate policies publicly 

-        lobbyists;  individuals who seek to influence government decisions on behalf a group or a client

o     staff of some IGs

o     professional lobbyists: clients (interest groups, businesses, civic associations) hire a firm to lobby on their behalf


-        $1.55 billion in 2000 (

-        over 10,000 registered lobbyists

ISU Lobbying

-        hired Hogan & Hartson, LLP

o     registerd in Oct. 2004 to lobby on Agricultural and homeland security appropriations

-        ISU spent $121,820 in 2004 on lobbying