The Practice Of Lobbying In Politics And Firms

Understanding the act of lobbying and the role it plays in our government is necessary to understanding the entire political picture. Lobbyists play an essential role in the nature of today’s politics. Educating the public on the fundamentals regarded in lobbying is indispensable, as it is an effective route to communicating with leaders of today. In this research paper the term “lobbyist” will be defined and explored; types of lobbying, including practices, will then be discussed in order to weigh the advantages and disadvantages rooted in their applications. as well as the potential for regulation; lastly, the vital power vested in the form of expression lobbying holds will be illuminated. Moreover, one will be able to conclude that lobbying, when practiced in good faith, promotes desirable political influence rather than corruption, along with the act of expression.

A lobbyist can be defined as an individual engaging in an orchestrated effort to influence lawmakers. To expand on this concept, the act of lobbying can be further understood or interpreted as attempting to influence political decisions made by officials. Educating the public by proliferating the role associated with lobbying is vital, as many forms of citizens, organizations, and community groups, including private sector entities, companies, fellow lawmakers and/or government officials, or advocacy groups (interest groups) lobby. Professional lobbyists are people whose company seeks to change or influence laws on behalf of an organization or individual who employs them. As attempting to influence political decisions made by officials is an act of lobbying in itself, many lobbyists show and practice an esteemed set of values rooted in mindful progression involving environmental policy and the effect of litigation on the safety of our air, water and resources.

Hannah Stephanz, a former intern for the Communications department in the Washington D.C. office of “EarthJustice”, recounts her experience at the U.S. Capitol building where she witnessed lobbyists from around the world join forces to argue federal coal ash regulations. Stephanz writes in her article, “When Lobbying is a Good Thing” published by EarthJustice,

It was refreshing to see another image of a lobbyist, folks who are meeting with their elected officials to influence change on behalf of the good for their community and the environment. They weren’t professional lobbyists, but they lobbied just the same. I know that the stereotypical lobbyist exists, throwing cash and promises to politicians in order to get their way, but at Earthjustice, the lobbyists are pushing for a better future for us all. Just as the earth needs a good lawyer, the earth also needs a good lobbyist. 

A former objective to the concept of lobbying, Stephanz contends, “There is bad lobbying and, as I learned, there is good”. Stephanz touches further on the knowledge she acquired from witnessing lobbyists first-hand, “But, as I learned during my time here, “lobbying” has a much-more layered definition”

Copious degrees of lobbying exist and thrive amongst society. Having said this, it is fair to contend that an objective stance or opinion may conclude that some measures taken by lobbyists graze the levels of extreme. By their role in helping to decide the results of elections and policies, lobbyists gain even more binding power over lawmakers. To many candidates of legislature it's a matter of welcoming this support by contribution or surrendering chances of election. There can be no question that money is powerful in political campaigns, especially in the face of large cases where candidates with limited contributions have been successful. On another side of the continuum, critics argue for the absolute duty of politicians to represent the interests of society, and point out the needlessness of “ethical-normative lobbying rules” with the argument that fair legislation is inevitably the product of opposing lobbyists' balancing power. Theresa Bauer addresses this in her article titled, “Responsible Lobbying A Multidimensional Model”; “Lobbying is not merely a one-way provision of information, but rather a communications process that involves interaction and exchange (see Jaatinen 1997). Corporate attempts to shape legislation are legitimate, but the drawbacks of lobbying, such as the risk of disproportionate influence on law-making, are not to be neglected”.

Any indication behind the scope of lobbying can be gained by seeing the organizations that carry out these activities. Logan and Fellow explain the general consensus behind regulating lobbyists in an article titled, “Lobbying”. A general opinion prevails, and has prevailed for many years, that lobbying activities should be regulated. It is quite generally believed that much improper influence is brought to bear by lobbyists and that they have an undue share in helping to shape legislation affecting the interests which they represent. The movement for regulation has shown itself in state legislatures more than it has in Congress although as will be seen presently there have been many attempts in Congress to curb the lobbyists. The movement for regulation in state legislatures is of long standing. 

A study performed by Nauro F. Campos, alongside Francesco Giovannoni, explores “the impact of lobbying on influence, accounting for corruption and political institutions” (Campos and Giovannoni). Using survey data from 2005 for a large number of companies across twenty-six countries, Campos and Giovannoni show that political institutions play a significant role in explaining the lobbying decision. More precisely, it delves into electoral systems and verifies companies that are more likely to participate in lobbying are those that have open lists and smaller districts in the electoral system, which appear to be “older, larger, and foreign-owned”. A statement from their article, “Political institutions, lobbying and corruption” explains the variables set in place, as well as the data related to the question at hand; “On average, what percent[age] of total annual sales do firm’s like yours typically pay in unofficial payments/gifts to public officials?” (Campos and Giovannoni). Campos and Giovannoni explain the logic behind establishing a crucial variable to their study,

We have also added an important country-level control that many believe mediates the relationship between political institutions (electoral rules), on the one hand, and lobbying membership and perceived policy influence on the other. That factor is income inequality and here it is measured by the Gini coefficient obtained from the UNU-WIDER World Income Inequality Database (WIID). The measure of corruption that we favour captures firms’ experience in each country. Our firm-level corruption measure is originally from the BEEPS data base. In our analysis, it is the answer to the following question: ‘On average, what percent[age] of total annual sales do firm’s like yours typically pay in unofficial payments/gifts to public officials?’ A crucial indication that we are indeed capturing something inherently different with our measures of corruption and lobbying is that the simple correlation between these two is very low, at - 0.038. Also of interest is that the correlation between corruption and the level of per capita GDP is negative but not particularly high, at -0.13. 

The findings alyze how a firm chooses to influence government politics. The data concludes that for individual businesses, encouraging lobbying rather than corruption, is the preferred way to successfully influence a government policy.

“The main conclusion is that lobbying is a significantly more effective way of generating political influence than corruption, and that electoral rules are a key mediating political institution. Our baseline estimate is that the probability of influencing government policy is 16% higher for firms that are members of lobbying groups than for those firms that are not” (Campos and Giovannoni). Distinguishing between corruption and bribery as two principal methods of manipulating or “producing influence” was also a key factor in collecting data for this study. “The implications of these results for individual firms are straightforward in supporting lobbying instead of corruption as the preferred method to effectively influence government policy. We also note we obtained evidence that lobbying is a stronger predictor of firms’ sales growth than corruption, which further supports the broad direction of such policy implications”.

The vital power and act of expression lobbying holds for our society is crucial. Enforcing the right to expression by influencing political beliefs is a power and force to be reckoned with. In “Lobbying for the People: the Political Behavior of Public Interest Groups”, Jeffrey Berry implies how a collected public sentiment and expectation reflect in the daily political world.

It is important to try to learn about public interest groups (to be defined shortly) and their political behavior. An understanding of the operation of such organizations can contribute to our knowledge of how citizens communicate with their leaders. In broad terms, how is public opinion aggregated and preferences expressed in the day-to-day political world? Public interest groups offer individuals one means of participating collectively in politics for the purpose of trying to influence public policy outcomes. The endeavors of these organizations to 'lobby' the institutions of government are the culmination of this collective action. 

On the topic of continuing research related to lobbying in the future, Campos and Giovannoni explain the need for further progression, the challenges associated, as well as the validity such data would hold,

One main challenge for future research on these issues is that while more precise data at firm level on corruption is beginning to be available, data on lobbying at the firm level are still very sketchy. We believe that a very important issue is, for example, that using existing data one cannot distinguish firms that lobby indirectly (through a trade association or lobby group) from firms that lobby directly; and nor can one separate trade associations from pure lobby groups. Further, we have stressed above the importance of differentiating between lobbying and corruption with respect to their targets rather than the means used. Once this distinction is better appreciated, the question of how different ways of lobbying perform in specific institutional contexts will gain urgency. On this count, further progress at both theoretical and empirical level is still needed and would be extremely valuable. 

Simply put, lobbying includes all actions taken with lawmakers to gain power, while corruption includes all actions taken to manipulate enforcers of laws. There is much to be gained in lobbying, as the data supports its effectiveness regarding the political influence it has shown in the twenty-six firms studied from around the country. In addition, influencing policies and legislation by practicing lobbying has shown a promising way to communicate for issues and activities incurred by our society in total. Lobbying, when practiced in good faith, promotes desirable political influence rather than corruption, along with the act of expression.

Works Cited

  • Bauer, Theresa. “Responsible Lobbying: A Multidimensional Model.” Journal of Corporate Citizenship, vol. 2014, no. 53, 2014, pp. 61–76., doi:10.9774/
  • Berry, Jeffrey M. Lobbying for the People: the Political Behavior of Public Interest Groups. Princeton University Press, 2015.
  • Campos, Nauro F., and Francesco Giovannoni. “Political Institutions, Lobbying and Corruption: Journal of Institutional Economics.” Cambridge Core, Cambridge University Press, 4 Apr. 2017,
  • “Every Man His Own Lobbyist.” Lobbying America: The Politics of Business from Nixon to NAFTA, by Benjamin C. Waterhouse, Princeton University Press, PRINCETON; OXFORD, 2014, pp. 229–254. JSTOR, Accessed 29 Apr. 2020.
  • Logan, Edward B., and Simon N. Patten Fellow. “Lobbying.” The Annals of the American Academy of Political and Social Science, Vol. 144, Supplement (Jul., 1929), Pp. i-Iii+v+1-91, Sage Publications, Inc. in Association with the American Academy of Political and Social Science,
  • Stephanz, Hannah. “When Lobbying Is a Good Thing.” Earthjustice, 20 Jan. 2015,
16 December 2021
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