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Astroturf: Interest Group Lobbying and Corporate Strategy

  • Thomas P. Lyon
  • John W. Maxwell

We study three corporate nonmarket strategies designed to influence the lobbying behavior of other special interest groups: (1) astroturf, in which the firm covertly subsidizes a group with similar views to lobby when it normally would not; (2) the bear hug, in which the firm overtly pays a group to alter its lobbying activities; and (3) self-regulation, in which the firm voluntarily limits the potential social harm from its activities. All three strategies reduce the informativeness of lobbying, and all reduce the payoff of the public decision-maker. We show that the decision-maker would benefit by requiring the public disclosure of funds spent on astroturf lobbying but that the availability of alternative influence strategies limits the impact of such a policy. Copyright Blackwell Publishing 2004.

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Article provided by Wiley Blackwell in its journal Journal of Economics & Management Strategy.

Volume (Year): 13 (2004)
Issue (Month): 4 (December)
Pages: 561-597

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Handle: RePEc:bla:jemstr:v:13:y:2004:i:4:p:561-597
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  1. Crawford, Vincent P & Sobel, Joel, 1982. "Strategic Information Transmission," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 50(6), pages 1431-51, November.
  2. Lyon, Thomas P. & Maxwell, John W., 2003. "Self-regulation, taxation and public voluntary environmental agreements," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 87(7-8), pages 1453-1486, August.
  3. repec:tpr:qjecon:v:98:y:1983:i:3:p:371-400 is not listed on IDEAS
  4. Paul Milgrom & John Roberts, 1986. "Relying on the Information of Interested Parties," RAND Journal of Economics, The RAND Corporation, vol. 17(1), pages 18-32, Spring.
  5. Aumann, Robert & Brandenburger, Adam, 1995. "Epistemic Conditions for Nash Equilibrium," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 63(5), pages 1161-80, September.
  6. Bikhchandani, Sushil & Hirshleifer, David & Welch, Ivo, 1992. "A Theory of Fads, Fashion, Custom, and Cultural Change in Informational Cascades," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 100(5), pages 992-1026, October.
  7. David P. Baron, 2001. "Private Politics, Corporate Social Responsibility, and Integrated Strategy," Journal of Economics & Management Strategy, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 10(1), pages 7-45, 03.
  8. John W. Maxwell & Thomas P Lyon & Steven C.. Hackett, 1995. "Self-Regulation and Social Welfare: The Political Economy of Corporate Environmentalism," University of Chicago - George G. Stigler Center for Study of Economy and State 122, Chicago - Center for Study of Economy and State.
  9. Livio D. DeSimone & Frank Popoff, 2000. "Eco-Efficiency: The Business Link to Sustainable Development," MIT Press Books, The MIT Press, edition 1, volume 1, number 0262541092, June.
  10. Drew Fudenberg & Jean Tirole, 1986. "A "Signal-Jamming" Theory of Predation," RAND Journal of Economics, The RAND Corporation, vol. 17(3), pages 366-376, Autumn.
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