Theory: The political information that lobbyists seek is distributed in a communications network. Individual lobbyists must therefore choose their contacts carefully. We wed rational choice theory to network analysis in a combinatorial optimization model of lobbyists’ choice of contacts in a network. The model demonstrates the growing importance of political "friends" relative to acquaintances as contacts when the competition for information among groups rises. Hypotheses: Our model predicts that when the general demand for political information is low, a cocktail equilibrium prevails: lobbyists will invest their time in gaining "weak tie" political acquaintances rather than in gaining "strong tie" political friends (Granovetter 1973). As the demand for information rises, lobbyists follow a chum strategy, investing in strong ties. Method: We test these hypotheses in an analysis of inter-organizational contact making in U.S. health politics, using the data of Laumann and Knoke (1987), with OLS regressions of average group contacts across policy events and maximum likelihood count models of contacts across interest groups. Results: Both the events-level analysis and the group-level analysis show that as lobbyists' demand for information rises, they make more strong ties. We also find that older organizations have more strong ties by virtue of reputation effects, but we find no evidence for the hypothesis that strong-tie investments are increasing in a group's fiscal resources.
lobbyists, network analysis, communications network, combinatorial optimization, demand for information
Lobbyists - Social networks
Interpersonal and Small Group Communication | Social Influence and Political Communication
Carpenter, Daniel; Esterling, Kevin; and Lazer, David, "Information and contact-making in policy networks: a model with evidence from the U.S. health policy domain" (1997). Computer and Information Science Faculty Publications. Paper 2. http://hdl.handle.net/2047/d20000314
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