A golden key can open any door? Public funding and interest groups’ access

Michele Crepaz, Marcel Hanegraaff, Rosa Sanchez-Salgado

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

10 Citations (Scopus)


Are government funds an opportunity or a threat to interest groups’ participation in policy-making? In answering this question, previous research has raised the question of the interrelatedness between access to policymakers and funding of interest groups’ activities. A popular argument represents funding opportunities as inhibitors of interest group access to policy-making because of the funds’ negative effect on an organization’s autonomy. In opposition to this view, many authors have argued that public funds open access opportunities and contribute to an active involvement of funded organizations in the policy process. This article provides a novel explanation for these contrasting findings. The effect of public funds on access critically depends on the type of contacts organizations have with policymakers. Funding might positively affect access initiated by policymakers (high threshold), but might not affect access initiated by interest groups (low threshold). Using survey data collected from more than 2000 organizations active in four European countries and at the EU level, the article shows that public funds are associated to an organization’s participation in policy-making but this correlation is indeed highly dependent on the type of contacts groups have with policymakers.
Original languageEnglish
JournalWest European Politics
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 20 Dec 2020


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