U4 Anti-Corruption Resource Centre

This Anti-Corruption Helpdesk brief was produced in response to a query from a U4 Partner Agency. The U4 Helpdesk is operated by Transparency International in collaboration with the U4 Anti-Corruption Resource Centre based at the Chr. Michelsen Institute.

Query

Please provide an overview on the state of research on negative influence of interest groups on decision-making - including state capture – as well as their potential benefits, based on publicly available information and papers. Particular reference should be given to South East Asia and East Asia including China. Identify factors which control and prevent interest groups from having a negative influence on the governance and policy decisions in a country (e.g. transparency, media, removal of discretion, ways of separating and ensuring conflicts of interest are avoided), providing examples/lessons learned from countries in the region which have curbed corruption/illegal influence by interest groups whilst maintaining the (potential) benefits.

Purpose

 
There is increasing recognition of the emergence of new and pernicious interest groups which have influence on policy making in Vietnam and distortions in the market. We would like to help the Government understand better the nature and scenarios under which interest groups emerge and capture the state. They are also aware that there are some benefits and want to see if they can disentangle these. Regional evidence would be especially helpful.

 
Content

 
1. Interest group influence on policy-making
2. Pros and cons of interest group influence
3. Regulating interest group influence
4. Best practice examples
5. References

 
Caveat

There is very little research on interest group influence on policy-making and its potential benefits in Asian countries. Examples of best practices and lessons learned from these countries are also scarce.


Summary

Interest groups are associations of individuals or organisations that on the basis of one or more shared concerns, attempts to influence public policy in its favour usually by lobbying members of the government. Interest groups influence on policy making is not a corrupt or illegitimate activity per se, but a key element of the decision-making process. However, disproportionate and opaque interest group influence may lead to administrative corruption, undue influence, and state capture, favouring particular interest groups at the expense of public interest. Transparency is thus key to ensure that policy-makers do not give preferential treatment for specific interest groups. Regulations on lobbying, conflict of interest, asset disclosure, competition, as well as, on freedom of information are among the wide range of rules adopted by countries across the world to increase transparency and accountability in decision making. This answer thus provides for examples on measures taken by East and South-East Asian countries to increase transparency and accountability and avoid undue influence and other forms of corruption, and best examples on regulating lobbying, focusing on the United States, Canada, and the European Union.

Authors

Maira Martini, Transparency International, mmartini@hotmail.com

Date

12/06/2012

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