Persuasive Lobbying with Allied Legislators, American Journal of Political Science, 64(4): 938-951, 2020
Why do interest groups lobby allied legislators if they already agree? One possibility is that allies are intermediaries who help persuade unconvinced legislators. To study the role and value of intermediaries, I develop a formal model of persuasive lobbying where interest groups use public cheap talk and provide verifiable information to a strategically selected coalition of legislators. Interest groups face a trade-off: Lobbying aligned legislators is advantageous as they are more willing to endorse the group's preferred policy, but those who are too aligned cannot persuade a majority of their peers. The model illustrates how intermediaries are especially valuable if interest groups cannot persuade a majority themselves. Counter to previous work, the results demonstrate how a legislature's ideological composition determines the use of intermediaries. Groups may lobby intermediaries even if access to legislators is free and unrestricted.
Works in progress
Designing Political Order (with Scott Abramson and Brenton Kenkel, under review - January 2021)
Social scientists and political philosophers widely believe that the foundations of political order rest upon the existence of a sovereign agent endowed with a monopoly of coercive force. In this paper, we develop a formal model of anarchic competition and show that whenever it is possible to construct a peaceful political order based upon a monopoly of force, it is also possible to construct one where multiple agents maintain coercive abilities. What is more, we show that peaceful orders with multiple violence specialists generally require lower coercive investments than peaceful orders with a single violence specialist. This undercuts the notion that monopolistic domestic politics are inherently more efficient than the a competitive international system. Nevertheless, we identify why inefficient monopolies of violence might persist — any individual agent’s payoff is maximized when she serves as a monopolist that invests more in coercion than is strictly necessary to maintain peace.
International Coordination and the Informational Rationale for Delegation (with Nicolas Riquelme, September 2021)
In contrast to existing rationales for delegation that are centered on the expertise of international organizations (IOs), we study preferences for delegation if countries have information that IOs lack. In our model, countries transmit information through cheap talk and costly signals and benefit from international coordination and adapting policies to domestic circumstances. Even though countries gain due to an IO's ability to help with coordination, they waste more resources in signaling once the involvement of IOs induces more coordinated policies. With too much uncertainty, countries find it optimal to coordinate outside IOs. Additionally, more disagreement between countries strengthens their willingness to delegate but makes enforcement of cooperative agreements more difficult. Further, IOs may be designed with limited discretion to reduce the scope for costly signaling. Although international relations theories generally argue that IOs help with information transmission, our results further our understanding of how IOs may negatively affect countries' incentives to share information.
Friendly Lobbying under Time Pressure (with Clement Minaudier - November 2021)
Lobbyists often target legislators who are aligned with them rather than opponents. The choice of whom to lobby affects both what information becomes available to legislators and the influence that special interest groups exert on policies. However, the conditions under which allies are targeted are not well understood. We investigate how time pressure affects the strategic decision of whom to lobby. We derive conditions on the cost of delaying policies and on the distribution of legislators' preferences for lobbyists to prefer targeting allies. We show that the use of allied intermediaries has important implications for the duration of policy making and the quality of policy choices. Counter-intuitively, an increase in time pressure can increase the duration of policy making and a longer duration does not always lead to better-informed policies.
Politicians, Bureaucrats, and the Battle for Credit (with Varun Karekurve-Ramachandra and Lawrence Rothenberg)
Politicians may want to claim credit from bureaucrats when things go well and deflect blame when outcomes go awry. While many assume that this is a function of accountability concerns, another possibility is that principals are attempting to incentivize their largely insulated agents to produce better policy. We capture these incentives with a series of principal-agent models where bureaucrats have reputation concerns. In these models, the bureaucrat exerts effort to produce good policies and the politician comments on the bureaucrat's skill level to an interested audience. Without dynamic considerations, the politician can effectively induce bureaucratic effort by commenting about the bureaucrat. However, with multiple periods, the expectation of blaming and crediting may induce more bureaucratic effort today at the cost of weakening the bureaucrat's incentives tomorrow. Furthermore, if the politician values her reputation more than producing good policies she will find it harder to credibly reveal information about the bureaucrat's skill level and responsibility and, hence, to motivate him. Nonetheless, our results imply that blaming and crediting may be socially beneficial.
Should We Let Interest Groups Learn From Their Competitors?
There is increasing pressure on political organizations such as the European Commission to provide openness about how special interests influence policies. In response, lobby registers are set up to provide information about the topic, date, and participants of meetings with policy-makers. Interest groups use these registers to learn what competing groups are doing and may respond strategically. To evaluate the strategic changes due to increased transparency, I study a formal model where competing interests engage in informational lobbying over time. The focus is on how observing lobbying behavior of competing groups (transparency) affects the amount and timing of information provision. I show that transparency may be disadvantageous because groups are dissuaded from acquiring information if they learn that competitors have disclosed favorable information for their cause. Conversely, transparency allows interest groups to be selective in acquiring information and may lead to more informed decision-making. Further, a transparent institution causes changes in the timing of disclosure because interest groups trade off potentially scaring off competitors with early disclosure and waiting to learn whether further information acquisition is necessary.
Restricting Access to Invite Expertise: A model of lobbying in international organizations
Communication and Delay in Sovereign Debt Crises (with Randall Stone)