British Business and Public Policy:

The Informational and Structural Determinants of Political Influence

ESRC Grant Number: RES-000-22-2428

Principal Investigator: Dr. Patrick Bernhagen
Research Assistants: Aveek Bhattacharya, Dr. Paul Rutherford, Brett Trani

Do organised interests in British society influence policy making in Westminster and Holyrood? Which strategies work and which don’t? Are firms and business associations more successful than other groups in getting politicians to enact policies they like?

To answer these questions, this project elaborates and applies a theoretical model to predict the circumstances in which interest groups can wield political influence through lobbying. To examine this model, data were gathered on the political activities and positions of different interest groups and on the factors affecting the success or failure of their lobbying. For this, a data set of 163 policy proposals made by UK governments between 2001 and 2007 has been compiled. An internet survey of lobbyists was used to collect data on each proposal’s expected costs and benefits from the perspective of the different actors, the costs and effort expended on lobbying, and levels of credibility and trust characterising the relationship between interest groups and policymakers.

Through the examination of the informational and structural factors of special interest politics across a range of policy areas, the project aims to contribute to a better understanding of the policy process as well as of the political influence of organised groups in British politics.


Reports and Publications

Summary Report

Patrick Bernhagen (2013) ‘When do politicians listen to lobbyists (and who benefits when they do)?‘, European Journal of Political Research 52, 1, 20–43 | Stata Do-file | Online appendix

Patrick Bernhagen (2012) ‘Who Gets What in British Politics – and How? Analyzing Media Reports on Lobbying around Government Policy, 2001–2007’, Political Studies 60, 3, 557–577.

Patrick Bernhagen and Brett Trani (2012) ‘Media Reporting on Interest Group Activity in Britain: Mobilization and Lobbying Patterns’, Interest Groups & Advocacy 1, 1, 48–66.

ESRC Grant Reports


Data and documentation

List of policy proposals

LexisNexis search parameters

Complete data set, codebook and questionnaires


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