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Looking for 'Voice' in Business and Citizen Groups: Who’s Being Heard?

Lookup NU author(s): Professor William Maloney



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


Why do some associations provide members with an effective voice whereas others appear to have internal democracy in name only? We theoretically combine population-ecology with Hirschman’s strategic response model. This leads us to hypothesize that in dense, competitive organizational environments, the effective alternatives available make it likely that dissatisfied members respond with exit rather than voice. However, in low-dense, monopoly-like situations dissatisfied members demand and receive effective voice options. We further hypothesize that the particular sets of incentives of firms and individuals as members moderates this effect. We assess our argument on the basis of the Comparative Interest Group (CIG) elite-survey among interest group leaders in five European countries and at the EU level. We control for the level of professionalization and use country dummies to identify country- level differences. We find strong empirical support for our theoretical argument. The contribution of this article is to theoretically connect macro-level population-level factors to micro-level intra-organizational processes, and specifies the nature of the organizational link between interests in society and those represented in the interest group system.

Publication metadata

Author(s): Berkhout J, Hanegraaff M, Maloney WA

Publication type: Article

Publication status: Published

Journal: Political Studies

Year: 2023

Volume: 71

Issue: 3

Pages: 545-572

Print publication date: 01/08/2023

Online publication date: 11/06/2021

Acceptance date: 03/05/2021

Date deposited: 05/05/2021

ISSN (print): 0032-3217

ISSN (electronic): 1467-9248

Publisher: Sage Publications Ltd