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A Simple Model of the Commercial Lobbying Industry

Listed author(s):
  • Groll, Thomas
  • Ellis, Christopher J.

In this paper we present a model of the behavior of commercial lobbying firms (such as the so-called K-Street lobbyists of Washington, D.C.). In contrast to classical special interest groups, commercial lobbying firms represent a variety of clients and are not directly affected by policy outcomes. They are hired by citizens, or groups of citizens, to advocate on their behalf to policymakers. In our analysis we address two basic questions; why do commercial lobbying firms exist, and what are the implications of their existence for social welfare? We answer the first part of this question by proposing that commercial lobbying firms possess a verification technology that allows them to improve the quality of information concerning the social desirability of policy proposals. This gives policymakers the incentive to allocate their scarce time to lobbying firms. Essentially it is this access to policymakers that lobbying firms sell to their clients. To address the question of social welfare we construct a simple general equilibrium model that includes commercial lobbying firms, and compare the equilibrium obtained under market provision of lobbying services to the first best optimum. We find that the market level of lobbying services can be socially either too large or too small, and characterize when each will be the case.

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Paper provided by University Library of Munich, Germany in its series MPRA Paper with number 36168.

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Date of creation: Jan 2012
Handle: RePEc:pra:mprapa:36168
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  8. Bennedsen, Morten & Feldmann, Sven E., 2006. "Informational lobbying and political contributions," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 90(4-5), pages 631-656, May.
  9. Cotton, Christopher, 2009. "Should we tax or cap political contributions? A lobbying model with policy favors and access," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 93(7-8), pages 831-842, August.
  10. Bennedsen, Morten & Feldmann, Sven E., 2002. "Lobbying and Legislative Organization: The Effect of the Vote of Confidence Procedure," Business and Politics, Cambridge University Press, vol. 4(02), pages 187-203, August.
  11. 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.
  12. Timothy Besley & Stephen Coate, 2001. "Lobbying and Welfare in a Representative Democracy," Review of Economic Studies, Oxford University Press, vol. 68(1), pages 67-82.
  13. Jordi Blanes i Vidal & Mirko Draca & Christian Fons-Rosen, 2012. "Revolving Door Lobbyists," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 102(7), pages 3731-3748, December.
  14. Austen-Smith, David, 1994. "Strategic Transmission of Costly Information," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 62(4), pages 955-963, July.
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  16. Krueger, Anne O, 1974. "The Political Economy of the Rent-Seeking Society," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 64(3), pages 291-303, June.
  17. Lohmann, Susanne, 1995. "Information, Access, and Contributions: A Signaling Model of Lobbying," Public Choice, Springer, vol. 85(3-4), pages 267-284, December.
  18. Grossman, Sanford J & Hart, Oliver D, 1983. "An Analysis of the Principal-Agent Problem," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 51(1), pages 7-45, January.
  19. Gromb, Denis & Martimort, David, 2007. "Collusion and the organization of delegated expertise," Journal of Economic Theory, Elsevier, vol. 137(1), pages 271-299, November.
  20. Thomas Groll & Christopher J. Ellis, 2013. "Dynamic Commercial Lobbying," CESifo Working Paper Series 4114, CESifo Group Munich.
  21. Marianne Bertrand & Matilde Bombardini & Francesco Trebbi, 2014. "Is It Whom You Know or What You Know? An Empirical Assessment of the Lobbying Process," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 104(12), pages 3885-3920, December.
  22. Laffont, Jean-Jacques & Tirole, Jean, 1990. "The Politics of Government Decision Making: Regulatory Institutions," Journal of Law, Economics and Organization, Oxford University Press, vol. 6(1), pages 1-31, Spring.
  23. Bennedsen Morten & Feldmann Sven E., 2002. "Lobbying and Legislative Organization: The Effect of the Vote of Confidence Procedure," Business and Politics, De Gruyter, vol. 4(2), pages 1-18, August.
  24. Bengt Holmstrom, 1979. "Moral Hazard and Observability," Bell Journal of Economics, The RAND Corporation, vol. 10(1), pages 74-91, Spring.
  25. Crawford, Vincent P & Sobel, Joel, 1982. "Strategic Information Transmission," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 50(6), pages 1431-1451, November.
  26. Potters, Jan & van Winden, Frans, 1992. "Lobbying and Asymmetric Information," Public Choice, Springer, vol. 74(3), pages 269-292, October.
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