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The role of super interest groups in public policy diffusion

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  • 1 University of California, USA
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In recent years scholarship has drawn attention to the role of large multi-issue interest groups in policy networks and in public policy diffusion. This paper develops this field of study by demonstrating empirically the leverage of the ‘sustained organisational influence’ theory of policy diffusion. Specifically, it focuses on the role of the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) in diffusing the Stand Your Ground policy across US state legislatures. By comparing ALEC’s template policy to bills introduced and legislation subsequently enacted within state legislatures, we demonstrate that ALEC has positioned itself as a ‘super interest group’, exerting sustained organisational influence across an expanding number of states. In doing so, this paper moves theory beyond the typical advocacy coalition framework that implicitly assumes policymaking occurs discretely among specialists on an issue-by-issue basis. It also highlights the democratic implications of the role of super interest groups in shaping policy behind the scenes.

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