The effectiveness of professional lobbyists in Britain 1986-1999
The impact of professional lobbyists varies according to context. The thesis assesses the relationship between professional lobbying and policy outcomes, and the impact of external variables. Whilst the effectiveness of professional lobbyists is partly a function of internal variables like skill, contacts and resources, external contextual factors are more often the key determinants of policy. Contextual variables include factors external to government like the world economy and judicial decisions, and factors internal to government including party ideology and the autonomy of government actors. Its four case studies (Sunday Trading, CrossRail, Jubilee Line Extension and Professional Liability), representing a range of issues, from high to low profile, and varying in degrees of technicality and politicality, test nine hypotheses against evidence from in-depth interviews, governmental and parliamentary papers, and the press. When context is favourable, lobbyists have the greatest effect on non-contentious, technical and non-partisan issues. On low-profile issues, when low-profile tactics have failed, lobbyists can be effective if they use high-profile tactics to increase the salience of the issue within government. On issues initially and inherently high-profile, non-technical and political, there are more variables so the lobbyist's impact is proportionally less. Though lobbyists on occasion affect policy, they are rarely at the centre of decision-making. Policy outcomes are decided by bigger factors than the activities of lobbyists. Their impact is at the margins of policy, and the perception they and the press hold about their major effects is illusory. Whilst lobbyists rarely influence policy significantly, they do add value to clients. They bring economies of scale (offering services more cheaply than if provided in-house) and are often a worthwhile investment. They have experience; they educate clients; they know key players and processes and can overturn established procedure. More importantly, on rare occasions when the context is right, their involvement can affect policy outcomes.