Answers to the question of why bureaucrats interact with interest groups are important to understand how much influence these two sets of actors can exert on public decision making. Yet, to date, scholars have seldom systematically researched bureaucratic motives to grant interest groups access to policy making. As a result, we cannot properly determine how the precise nature of interactions between these two influential sets of actors in public decision making varies across cases and over time.
This study is an attempt to systematically explain why and when bureaucrats interact with interest groups. It develops a new explanatory model that integrates different explanations of bureaucracy-interest group interactions. The empirical analyses are based on a true mixed-method design and include the development of a novel database of Dutch national interest groups.
This book shows that giving access to interest groups in public decision making is not only a matter of strategic choices that are based on a cost-benefit analysis. Rather, and in short, bureaucrats’ interactions with interest groups are a matter of deliberately picking and choosing what they need from these groups, strategically anticipating what future consequences of interactions will entail, or (un)consciously following a path of interactions carved out by past experiences and choices.