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Merchants of Doubt: Corporate Political Influence when Expert Credibility is Uncertain

Author

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  • Mireille Chiroleu-Assouline
  • Thomas P. Lyon

Abstract

A key role of science-based non-governmental organizations (NGOs) is to communicate scientific knowledge to policymakers. However, recent evidence has emerged showing that industry-backed groups often attempt to undermine the credibility of such NGOs and weaken their ability to influence policy. To investigate the mechanisms by which a firm can profitably create doubt about scientific information, we use a signaling model of interest-group lobbying in which the policymaker has fixed costs of taking action. We explore two mechanisms for the creation of doubt. The first involves using Bayesian persuasion to imply that the NGO may be a radical extremist whose lobbying is not credible. The second involves the creation of a think tank which can offer its own testimony on scientific matters. We show the firm prefers that the think tank does not act as a credible moderate, but instead sometimes takes radical, non-credible, positions. We identify conditions under which each mechanism is preferred by the firm.

Suggested Citation

  • Mireille Chiroleu-Assouline & Thomas P. Lyon, 2016. "Merchants of Doubt: Corporate Political Influence when Expert Credibility is Uncertain," CESifo Working Paper Series 6165, CESifo Group Munich.
  • Handle: RePEc:ces:ceswps:_6165
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    Citations

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    Cited by:

    1. Julien Daubanes & Jean-Charles Rochet, 2016. "The Rise of NGO Activism," CESifo Working Paper Series 5891, CESifo Group Munich.
    2. Fabien Prieur & Benteng Zou, 2017. "On the impact of indirect competition for political influence on environmental policy," CREA Discussion Paper Series 17-16, Center for Research in Economic Analysis, University of Luxembourg.
    3. Prieur, Fabien & Zou, Benteng, 2018. "Climate politics: How public persuasion affects the trade-off between environmental and economic performance," Mathematical Social Sciences, Elsevier, vol. 96(C), pages 63-72.

    More about this item

    Keywords

    NGOs; public politics; lobbying;

    JEL classification:

    • D72 - Microeconomics - - Analysis of Collective Decision-Making - - - Political Processes: Rent-seeking, Lobbying, Elections, Legislatures, and Voting Behavior
    • D82 - Microeconomics - - Information, Knowledge, and Uncertainty - - - Asymmetric and Private Information; Mechanism Design
    • L31 - Industrial Organization - - Nonprofit Organizations and Public Enterprise - - - Nonprofit Institutions; NGOs; Social Entrepreneurship
    • Q58 - Agricultural and Natural Resource Economics; Environmental and Ecological Economics - - Environmental Economics - - - Environmental Economics: Government Policy

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