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Cooperation as an Interest Group Strategy: Implementation of Sections 9 & 10 of the Endangered Species Act (1982, as Amended)
Unformatted Document Text:  1 Cooperation as an Interest Group Strategy Introduction Interest groups, seeking to provide collective benefits to their constituent members, act strategically across the political system to influence decision making, including implementation. Groups must devise plans to obtain their preferred outcomes. They do this within the constraints they encounter in terms of the action arena: the political and policy context and the resources they bring to the implementation of public policy. Answering this question is critical for several reasons. First, groups are posited to serve both a negative (too much influence) and positive (balancing of interests) influence in public policy. Second, groups may serve to link citizens to government at multiple levels of the American federal system, and therefore serve as an important democratic link with respect to representation. Third, to the extent that groups must overcome individual incentives to play dominant strategies that lead to pareto sub-optimal outcomes, it becomes critical to investigate mechanisms that purport to foster cooperation to enhance social welfare, rather than extracting private rents and increasing conflict. The study of interest group behavior at the implementation of public policy is a research arena ripe for systematic empirical study; previous research has been limited in this respect, primarily due to a lack of good cross-sectional data, though many good policy domain-specific case studies exist (Baumgartner and Leech 1998). A lack of good data should not deter one from investigating questions of group behavior at the implementation of public policy, however. Groups are attuned to how public policy is finally implemented; this is most evident in the investigation of the implementation of the ESA, where both sides of the debate feel that much is at stake. Given the nature of the process, how are interest groups constrained in their behavior? That is, given the broad array of tactics groups can use to influence the policy process, what strategies do they use to achieve their policy preferences? Given a group’s resources and the arena within which they act, under what circumstances do they choose to fight and when do they choose to work within the process? This study highlights the role of information and access, how context shapes both, and how groups choose their actions relative to this arena. I investigate these questions at the implementation of public policy, specifically Sections 9 and 10 of the Endangered Species Act, as amended (1982). The implementation of the ESA in some sense is redistributive – the listing of a species as threatened or endangered prevents use of

Authors: Robbins, Suzanne.
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1
Cooperation as an Interest Group Strategy
Introduction
Interest groups, seeking to provide collective benefits to their constituent members, act
strategically across the political system to influence decision making, including implementation.
Groups must devise plans to obtain their preferred outcomes. They do this within the constraints
they encounter in terms of the action arena: the political and policy context and the resources
they bring to the implementation of public policy. Answering this question is critical for several
reasons. First, groups are posited to serve both a negative (too much influence) and positive
(balancing of interests) influence in public policy. Second, groups may serve to link citizens to
government at multiple levels of the American federal system, and therefore serve as an
important democratic link with respect to representation. Third, to the extent that groups must
overcome individual incentives to play dominant strategies that lead to pareto sub-optimal
outcomes, it becomes critical to investigate mechanisms that purport to foster cooperation to
enhance social welfare, rather than extracting private rents and increasing conflict.
The study of interest group behavior at the implementation of public policy is a research
arena ripe for systematic empirical study; previous research has been limited in this respect,
primarily due to a lack of good cross-sectional data, though many good policy domain-specific
case studies exist (Baumgartner and Leech 1998). A lack of good data should not deter one from
investigating questions of group behavior at the implementation of public policy, however.
Groups are attuned to how public policy is finally implemented; this is most evident in the
investigation of the implementation of the ESA, where both sides of the debate feel that much is
at stake. Given the nature of the process, how are interest groups constrained in their behavior?
That is, given the broad array of tactics groups can use to influence the policy process, what
strategies do they use to achieve their policy preferences? Given a group’s resources and the
arena within which they act, under what circumstances do they choose to fight and when do they
choose to work within the process? This study highlights the role of information and access,
how context shapes both, and how groups choose their actions relative to this arena.
I investigate these questions at the implementation of public policy, specifically Sections
9 and 10 of the Endangered Species Act, as amended (1982). The implementation of the ESA in
some sense is redistributive – the listing of a species as threatened or endangered prevents use of


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