Persuading the State: How Interest Groups Influence Agency Regulation
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CitationLibgober, Brian. 2018. Persuading the State: How Interest Groups Influence Agency Regulation. Doctoral dissertation, Harvard University, Graduate School of Arts & Sciences.
AbstractIn democracies, legislatures often delegate significant policymaking authorities to agencies in the executive branch. The primary way that agencies exercise this authority is by writing rules, which are quasi-legislative acts that are functionally equivalent to laws for most purposes. Each year, administrative agencies in the United States issue thousands of rules with substantial social and economic ramifications. Importantly, institutional avenues aimed at promoting rationality, accountability, and legitimacy also create opportunities for interest groups to make policy gains.
The four-paper dissertation uses a mix of formal modeling, high-frequency event studies, and qualitative content analysis to show how interest groups were able to influence the implementation of the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform Act at the Federal Reserve Board. The first paper, ``What Biased Rulemaking Looks Like,'' critically examines existing findings of biased mobilization and biased policy change during rulemaking. It distinguishes between "allocationa"l and "inferential" biases, showing how industry dominance over rulemaking can emerge from informational incentives and collective action problems even in an industry-hostile regulator. The second chapter, ``What's at Stake In Rulemaking,'' makes two important points. It provides new evidence that rulemaking discretion is often large and that interest groups are able to use comments to persuade regulators to adopt their preferred position. More subtly, it also presents new evidence in favor of the allocational bias explanation for industry dominance of Dodd-Frank rulemaking that is not subject to the same observational equivalence problem the model raises. The third chapter, ``Meetings, Comments, and the Distributive Politics of Rulemaking,'' explores the role of unobserved confounding due to ex parte meetings on the second chapter's story of commenter influence. It finds not only that the estimated effect of commenting is consistent after considering the role of comments, but also that meetings during rule-development are associated with gains that are much larger. The final chapter, ``What Comments Do and Why,'' is a qualitative content analysis of hundreds of comments that develops a fuller, not exclusively preferential account of why comments would persuade regulators. It also provides evidence that informational mechanisms, rather than threats of external sanction, drives interest group influence-seeking during financial regulation.
Citable link to this pagehttp://nrs.harvard.edu/urn-3:HUL.InstRepos:41121230
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