The Federal Rulemaking

Interest Groups and their Influence on Policymaking

Interest groups are persons or organizations that affect policymaking in some way because they share a common point of view or concern. Most of the time, these groups impose this by lobbying government members. The influence of interest groups in policymaking is not a corrupt or illegitimate activity in and of itself, but it is a necessary action in the process of making public policies (Wolton, n.d.). Even if these interests are not directly related to corruption, their involvement leads to administrative corruption, undue influence, other undesirable outcomes and cases of state capture and even to some extent favor a particular group of people at the expense of the common citizen. This situation calls for careful consideration when it comes to hearing and catering for the concerns and the requirements of these interest groups. Transparency is required when dealing with the interest groups so as to ensure that the policy makers do not give any preferential treatment to and for selected interest groups and leaving out others. Regulations on conflict of interest, asset disclosure, competition, and lobbying are put in place in many countries with the aim of improving transparency and accountability in decision making, particularly when policy making is concerned.

Types of Interest Groups

There exist different types of interest groups in the society today and the main focus of the most of them is advancing the economic interests of its members. Some interest groups have a large membership while others still represent just some few members. One of these groups is the trade associations who seek to influence the policy making process with the aim of ensuring that their activities and operations are well favored by the proposed rules and decisions that the leaders and the whole government seek to ratify. The trade associations send representatives to meet the policy makers and share their concerns about specific policies that affect them, and in some cases, when the policy makers fail to listen, particularly when the group has a large membership, they may engage in demonstrations directed at the policy and decision makers.

The public interest group is another interest group that impact the rule making process in a land. Most of these groups are concerned with the issues that affect the general public such as the environmental issues and seek the attention of the policy makers with the aim of ensuring that these issues are accommodated in the decisions made. These groups have one advantage in that they have a massive membership and since they fight for the rights of the of the general public they are able to appeal to the large masses of people and can demonstrate easily and efficiently to push for a given policy. These groups influence the decision-making process by ensuring that the issues they stand for are enforced and put into consideration when leaders and policy makers sit down to make decisions and rules to govern an institution or country.

The Role of Interest Groups in Decision-Making

Interest groups involvement improve the decision-making process by availing valuable knowledge and some insight data about specific issues affecting the common members of the public. In addition to providing useful data, the interest groups represent interests which may be in one way or another be negatively impacted by a poorly deliberated public policy. Since these groups are known to keep track of the legislative and regulatory processes, they play a major role in enforcing the accountability of the government and leaders. Sometimes when there lacks a body to hold the leaders accountable, they tend to lag in their activities and in some cases even fail to ultimately play their role and fulfill their mandate and hence the interest groups come in to ensure that accountability ensured by all means.

Factors Affecting the Influence of Interest Groups

The success of the pursuit of these groups, however, is dependent on various factors. One is their persuasive power. To make their concerns known, the representatives of these groups send representatives to meet up with the Parliament, the central government and other organizations and here they air their desires with the aim of influencing the outcome of policy making processes. In these meetings, the strength of their claim is the one that determines whether their pursuits are successful or not.

Conflict of interest is another way that determines whether the influence of the interest groups works or not. Conflict of interests is a situation where an individual or a group o people is confronted with a situation which demands them to choose between the call of duty and their own private desires. In most cases, both the interest groups and the policy makers are faced with this situation. An individual in a regular employment or in the position which demands him to serve such interest groups may face the general public as the trade associations with a demand to hike or drop prices of some commodities. In some instances, such groups may offer bribes of incentives or promise the person in question some payment after the policy is effected("14. Interest Groups: Organizing to Influence, Topic Overview.", 2017). In such a situation the person may be faced with a dilemma in that he needs to decide whether to act in a transparent way or take the offer and twist the policy to suit the needs of the associations. These types and kinds of dilemmas face the policy and decision makers in their day to day working environments, and in most cases, there is no way they can avoid them.

Limitations of Interest Group Influence

Some times the influence of the interest groups may fail to work no matter how much they push for it. Some issues are dependent on the value that the general public place on them. Those issues that the public are adamant about making changes on may in most instances be impossible for the interest groups to impose pressure on and hence the groups have to let them be and allow the existing status quo to remain. Policies on such issues as food, sanitation, and water are difficult for the interest groups to effect pressure on. The reason is that the public cannot be influenced to push for decisions that would be detrimental to their well-being and the sanity of their lives. In case such policies are affected in a way that they would affect the lives of the common citizens in a negative way, the public may result into demonstrations and lobbies and eventually divert the decision.

The Influence of Interest Groups at Different Stages of Policy Making

The interest groups can influence the policy making process at various instances. One is that they can operate as the pioneers of some choice of a policy making process in that they come up with the inherent idea and then pose it to the policy makers with the aim of some interest or economic gain upon its ratification and implementations (Jesus, 2017). These groups can also come in to play when the process of the policy making has already kicked off and in this case they may come up with ways to diverting the direction in which the policy should take and even in some cases to cut short the process or propose an alternative that is always aimed at benefiting them in the long run. They always pursue their self-interests at the expense of the common citizens and the general public. The interest groups can also come to play at the end of a policy process making process whereby they come in to demonstrate to the general public how detrimental the policy would be to them and encouraging them to demonstrate against it but always with a hidden agenda of which is to benefit them in the long run. In this case, the policy may fail to be ratified at the benefit of these interest groups.



14. Interest Groups: Organizing to Influence, Topic Overview. (2017). Retrieved 18 July 2017, from

Jesus, A. (2017). Policy-making process and interest groups: how do local government associations influence policy outcome in Brazil and the Netherlands?. Retrieved 18 July 2017, from

Wolton, S. Beyond Money: How Special Interest Groups Influence Policy Choices. SSRN Electronic Journal.

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