Trust, coordination, and the industrial organization of political activism

Marco Battaglini, Roland Bénabou

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

15 Scopus citations


We study political activism by several interest groups with private signals. When their ideological distance to the policymaker is small, a "low-trust" regime prevails: agents frequently lobby even when it is unwarranted, taking advantage of the confirmation provided by others' activism; conversely, the policymaker responds only to generalized pressure. When ideological distance is large, a "high-trust" regime prevails: lobbying behavior is disciplined by the potential contradiction from abstainers, and the policymaker's response threshold is correspondingly lower. Within some intermediate range, both equilibria coexist. We then study the optimal organization of influence activities, contrasting welfare levels when interest groups act independently and when they coordinate.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)851-889
Number of pages39
JournalJournal of the European Economic Association
Issue number4
StatePublished - Jun 2003

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • General Economics, Econometrics and Finance


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