Introduction to undue influence on decision-making

There are several ways through which interest groups, such as companies, professional groups or public interests groups, try to influence the decision-making process. Interest group influence, commonly known as lobbying, encompasses “any direct or indirect communication with public officials, political decision-makers or representatives for the purposes of influencing public decision-making carried out by or on behalf of any organised group[1]”..

Interest group influence is not a corrupt or illegitimate activity per se, but when opaque and disproportionate it may lead to undue influence, corruption and even state capture. Undue influence is a more subtle form of corruption as interest groups often make use of legal mechanisms to influence the decision-making process[2]. For instance, they may legally contribute to electoral campaigns; provide research and host receptions but expecting favourable decisions in exchange. Undue influence may also be achieved by promising decision-makers well-paid future jobs in exchange for support[3].

In certain contexts, disproportionate and unregulated influence by interest groups may also lead to state capture, which occurs when corruption is so systemic and infiltrated within the institutions of the state that private interests substitute themselves to the common good as main drivers of policy and regulation. When the state is captured, companies and individuals shape and affect the formulation of laws and regulations through illicit payments (for example, bribes to parliamentarians and illicit contributions during electoral campaigns, among others).


  • [1]

    Transparency International. 2015. Lifting the lid on lobbying.

  • [2]

    Kaufmann et al. 2000. Seize the State, Seize the Day: State Capture, Corruption and Influence in Transition.

  • [3]

    OECD. 2009. Lobbyists, government and public trust: Promoting Integrity by self-regulation.

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