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The Comparative Interest Group‐survey project: design, practical lessons, and data sets

Lookup NU author(s): Professor William Maloney



This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License (CC BY 4.0).


This article discusses the methodology and practice behind planning and executing the Comparative Interest Group-survey project (CIG-survey). The CIG-survey includes surveys among national populations of organized interests in 9 European countries and at the European Union level. Although surveys are a useful and reliable way to collect data on a variety of topics, there are also numerous pitfalls and challenges in survey- ing interest groups, especially across multiple countries. Despite the prominent use of surveys in interest group research, systematic reflections on this method are scarce and data sets are not always properly archived or openly accessible. This article elabo- rates upon the practical implications and reflects on the lessons learnt during from the implementation of the CIG-survey. Moreover, we highlight how the fuzzy boundaries of interest communities obfuscate sampling and that surveying interest organizations requires researchers to navigate through a specific organizational context to reach and motivate respondents. We also demonstrate how a careful survey plan can positively affect response rates and enable the creation of robust comparative data sets.

Publication metadata

Author(s): Beyers J, FinkHafner D, Maloney WA, Novak M, Heylen F

Publication type: Article

Publication status: Published

Journal: Interest Groups and Advocacy

Year: 2020

Volume: 9

Pages: 272-289

Print publication date: 01/09/2020

Online publication date: 27/04/2020

Acceptance date: 30/01/2020

Date deposited: 30/10/2020

ISSN (print): 2047-7414

ISSN (electronic): 2047-7422

Publisher: Springer


DOI: 10.1057/s41309-020-00082-0


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Funder referenceFunder name
ERC-2013-CoG 616702-iBias