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Whose Ear to Bend? Information Sources and Venue Choice in Policy-Making

Frederick J. Boehmke, University of Iowa
Sean Gailmard
John W. Patty


Important conceptualizations of both interest groups and bureaucratic agencies suggest that these institutions provide legislatures with greater information for use in policy-making. Yet little is known about how these information sources interact in the policy process as a whole. In this paper we consider this issue analytically, and develop a model of policy-making in which multiple sources of information -- from the bureaucracy, an interest group, or a legislature's own in-house development - can be brought to bear on policy. Lobbyists begin this process by selecting a venue - Congress or a standing bureaucracy - in which to press for a policy change. The main findings of the paper are that self-selection of lobbyists into different policy-making venues can be informative per se, and that this self-selection can make legislatures prefer delegation to ideologically distinct bureaucratic agents over ideologically close ones. Changes within the Federal Trade Commission during the 1970s are reinterpreted in the context of our model.

Suggested Citation

Frederick J. Boehmke, Sean Gailmard, and John W. Patty. "Whose Ear to Bend? Information Sources and Venue Choice in Policy-Making" Quarterly Journal of Political Science 1.2 (2006): 139-169.

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