Activities per year
Governments claim to establish lobbying registers with the intent of giving citizens and the media the opportunity to see who is lobbying whom and for what purpose. This external scrutiny is expected to help prevent undue influence and corruption. Scholars, however, have noted that transparency might also serve internal scrutinizers by providing information to the lobbyists themselves. This study employed a survey of more than 300 interest groups in Ireland to test this alternative to the ‘armchair scrutiniser’ assumption, whereby transparency serves the purpose only of public scrutiny. The analysis found that a small but well-defined group of organizations routinely accesses the website of the Irish lobbying register and ‘consumes’ the information during the advocacy process. Interest-group characteristics, such as group type and material resources, help explain these trends. This study is relevant for scholars interested in the effects of transparency and how the availability of information is linked to lobbying strategies.