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National Advocacy on Behalf of the Poor: An Analysis of Organizational Decision-Making
Unformatted Document Text:  War on Poverty. Differences in the organizations’ structures mediated what form this attention would take. W HY AND H OW G ROUPS S HIFT THEIR P RIORITIES Pluralists argue that competition among organizations allows multiple voices to be heard within the US political system – power is dispersed among groups of citizens with common preferences and no one group of elites holds disproportionate levels of power (Truman, 1960 [1951]; Dahl, 1961). Instead, groups and group leaders strive to attract members or ideological adherents. This creates competition among groups and ensures that all people have the opportunity to gain representation – some group or group leader will always be seeking their support. Because pluralist theory emphasizes competition within the political system, scholars pay attention to what types of groups exist, how groups form and maintain themselves, and who, in terms of group interest, is represented in the US political system. However, such research rarely examines the internal priority-setting processes within groups. 11 Indeed, usually organizational goals and priorities have already been determined at the point when scholars examine organizational behavior. Although few scholars have analyzed the internal decision- making processes of organizations, many have noted the importance of such analysis. 12 A group’s internal response to external factors often determines its organizational priorities. 13 In their analysis of incentive systems, Clark and Wilson argue that a group will face 11 Extensive research examines the internal structure of groups, and the influence of structure on group operations. As I explain throughout this paper, I am more specifically interested in the influence of internal structural factors on priority-setting and decision-making. Works that focus upon internal dynamics and their influence on priority-setting include: Moe, 1980; Rothenberg, 1992; McFarland 1984; Barakso, 2004. On the internal structures of organizations and the significance of structure to group operations, without specific application to priority-setting, see, for example: Michels, 1949; Lipset, Trow, and Coleman, 1956; Truman, 1960 [1951]; Greenstone, 1969; Hrebenar and Scott, 1982; Bacharach and Lawler, 1982; Wilson, 1995 [1973]; Clemens, 1997; Pollenta, 2002. 12 See Tierney in Crotty, Schwartz, and Green, 1984; and Baumgartner and Leech, 1998. 13 Increasingly, scholars recognize the importance of external factors and their effects on organizational decision- making. See Baumgartner and Leech 1998; Walker 1991; Hrebenar and Scott, 1982; Gray and Lowery, 1996; Browne, 1998; Berry, 2003; Salisbury, 1984; Tarrow, 1984; McFarland, 1992. 8

Authors: Paden, Catherine.
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background image
War on Poverty.  Differences in the organizations’ structures mediated what form this attention 
would take.  
W
HY
 
AND
 H
OW
 G
ROUPS
 S
HIFT
 
THEIR
 P
RIORITIES
Pluralists argue that competition among organizations allows multiple voices to be heard 
within the US political system – power is dispersed among groups of citizens with common 
preferences and no one group of elites holds disproportionate levels of power (Truman, 1960 
[1951]; Dahl, 1961).  Instead, groups and group leaders strive to attract members or ideological 
adherents.  This creates competition among groups and ensures that all people have the 
opportunity to gain representation – some group or group leader will always be seeking their 
support.  Because pluralist theory emphasizes competition within the political system, scholars 
pay attention to what types of groups exist, how groups form and maintain themselves, and who, 
in terms of group interest, is represented in the US political system.  However, such research 
rarely examines the internal priority-setting processes within groups.
  Indeed, usually 
organizational goals and priorities have already been determined at the point when scholars 
examine organizational behavior.  Although few scholars have analyzed the internal decision-
making processes of organizations, many have noted the importance of such analysis.
A group’s internal response to external factors often determines its organizational 
priorities.
  In their analysis of incentive systems, Clark and Wilson argue that a group will face 
11
 Extensive research examines the internal structure of groups, and the influence of structure on group operations. 
As I explain throughout this paper, I am more specifically interested in the influence of internal structural factors on 
priority-setting and decision-making.  Works that focus upon internal dynamics and their influence on priority-
setting include: Moe, 1980; Rothenberg, 1992; McFarland 1984; Barakso, 2004.  On the internal structures of 
organizations and the significance of structure to group operations, without specific application to priority-setting, 
see, for example: Michels, 1949; Lipset, Trow, and Coleman, 1956; Truman, 1960 [1951]; Greenstone, 1969; 
Hrebenar and Scott, 1982; Bacharach and Lawler, 1982; Wilson, 1995 [1973]; Clemens, 1997; Pollenta, 2002.  
12
 See Tierney in Crotty, Schwartz, and Green, 1984; and Baumgartner and Leech, 1998.  
13
 Increasingly, scholars recognize the importance of external factors and their effects on organizational decision-
making.  See Baumgartner and Leech 1998; Walker 1991; Hrebenar and Scott, 1982; Gray and Lowery, 1996; 
Browne, 1998; Berry, 2003; Salisbury, 1984; Tarrow, 1984; McFarland, 1992. 
8


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