Interest groups use a variety of techniques to exert influence, among which coalition strategies are dominant. This project brings a new theoretical perspective to the study of interest group coalitions by applying network theory and methods. Such a perspective provides a lens where the attributes of individuals are less important than the relationships and ties among actors in the network. This project addresses three important questions about interest group behavior: how have interest group coalition strategies changed over time; which factors determine whether interest groups work together; and do particular interest groups wield more power before the Court? Utilizing a network measure of interest group coalitions based on cosigner status to United States Supreme Court amicus curiae, or friend of the court briefs, the central players and overall characteristics of this dynamic network from 1930 to present-day are illuminated. In addition, the analyses suggest which attributes bring interest groups to work together and how power in the network influences judicial decision-making and litigation success.

Through the creation of a new network measure applicable to 80 years of interest group activity and an associated data set of interest group characteristics, this research provides scholars an unparalleled opportunity to study the relative impact of interest group coalitions as they engage the governmental process.

Project Report

Interest groups are an important component of democratic governance. Winning in front of the courts, the legislative arena, or the executive branch is not a solitary act. While interest groups use a variety of techniques to exert influence, coalition strategies are dominant. However, many questions remain about such coalitions. This investigation brings a new theoretical perspective to the study of coalitions by applying network theory and methods. Such a perspective provides a lens that highlights the relationships and ties among the groups in the network. This project readdresses classic questions of interest group behavior: how have interest group coalition strategies changed over time; which factors most determine whether interest groups work together; and do particular interest groups wield more power before the Court and other branches of government? Utilizing a network measure of interest group coalitions based on cosigner status to United States Supreme Court amicus curiae, or friend of the court briefs, the central players and overall characteristics of this dynamic network from 1930 to present-day are illuminated. Our methodological work in network analysis will have impact across disciplines. Our methodological work focuses on development of a network model that incorporates unexplained heterogeneity and therefore relaxes the strong assumption that all covariates are adequately measured and accounted for when in reality that may not be possible. Our model improvement provides a more accuratel understanding of the substantive problems and allows prediction. The substantive areas where the network model apply range from political science to population and health, transportation and human systems, including national security as viewed from a network perspective. We have worked with over 100 undergraduates, training them in data collection and information gathering across a range of resources. Some undergraduates have been further trained in statistical software and data analysis. We have worked with 4 graduate students, training them in data collection, analysis, and programming.

Agency
National Science Foundation (NSF)
Institute
Division of Social and Economic Sciences (SES)
Type
Standard Grant (Standard)
Application #
1124386
Program Officer
Susan Sterett
Project Start
Project End
Budget Start
2011-09-15
Budget End
2014-08-31
Support Year
Fiscal Year
2011
Total Cost
$146,842
Indirect Cost
Name
Ohio State University
Department
Type
DUNS #
City
Columbus
State
OH
Country
United States
Zip Code
43210