Political insulation, information exchange, and interest group access to the bureaucracy

Christopher M. Reenock, Brian J. Gerber

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

37 Scopus citations


Under political uncertainty, legislative coalitions have incentives to insulate policy from future coalitions. While there is evidence of legislators' use of agency design to insulate the bureaucracy from elected officials, little is known about the ultimate consequences of such design choices on the policy participation of interest groups. How such design choices affect group access is important because of the centrality of groups in providing both bureaucratic accountability and information for policy development. Accordingly, we examine the consequences of the so-called "insulation game" on group access to the bureaucracy. We develop an information exchange theory that portrays the impact of agency design choices on group-reported access as a function of the level of design-induced political insulation and the quality of the information offered by a given group. We test our theory with two original datasets that include design parameters of US state environmental agencies and survey data measuring reported agency access by state-level interest groups. Our results suggest that insulating agencies via design does lead to lower reported access to regulators by interest groups, but only among those groups who supply less valuable information.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)415-440
Number of pages26
JournalJournal of Public Administration Research and Theory
Issue number3
StatePublished - Jul 2008
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Sociology and Political Science
  • Public Administration
  • Marketing


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