Local lobbying in single-party authoritarian systems: Do institutions matter?

Wang, H. and Duckett, J. (2023) Local lobbying in single-party authoritarian systems: Do institutions matter? Review of Policy Research, (doi: 10.1111/ropr.12582) (Early Online Publication)

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Lobbying, and its role in the policy process, has been extensively studied in democratic states, but much less is known about similar practices in authoritarian political systems. Although a few studies have identified lobbying in China, most have focused on big businesses and national policy making, and some have argued that it is unaffected by differences in political institutions. Our paper challenges this portrayal of business lobbying in autocracies. Through a study of the lobbying activities of business associations based on documentary research and fieldwork in the northern Chinese city of Tianjin between 2011 and 2013, we show that although business associations have similar lobbying motivations to their counterparts in democracies, their specific practices are often shaped by authoritarian political institutions. While they are similar in seeking to build informal relationships with public officials, provide expertise to shape policies, and raise their profile through public relations activities and media engagement, they differ in focusing their relationship-building efforts on helping officials with routine work, helping Communist Party organizations establish cells in businesses, and brokering between businesses and government. Rather than donating to political campaigns like their counterparts in democracies, they become legislators themselves, hire retired officials, and seek positions on advisory bodies. Rigged elections, an unreliable legal system, and restrictions on media and freedom of movement are key authoritarian institutions that shape these distinctive lobbying practices.

Item Type:Articles
Keywords:Lobbying, local government, business association, policy implementation, China.
Status:Early Online Publication
Glasgow Author(s) Enlighten ID:Wang, Dr Hua and Duckett, Professor Jane
Authors: Wang, H., and Duckett, J.
College/School:College of Social Sciences > School of Social and Political Sciences > Politics
Journal Name:Review of Policy Research
ISSN (Online):1541-1338
Published Online:19 October 2023
Copyright Holders:Copyright: © 2023 The Authors
First Published:First published in Review of Policy Research 2023
Publisher Policy:Reproduced under a Creative Commons licence

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