Citizens, Political Communication, and Interest Groups: Environmental Organizations in Canada and the United States

By John C. Pierce; Mary Ann E. Steger et al. | Go to book overview

Chapter Five
Organizational Resources and Informational Capacity

Environmental interest groups, in their lobbying efforts, clearly serve as important mechanisms for pressing the public's concerns in the scientifically and technically complex environmental policy area ( Milbrath 1984). Moreover, environmental groups clearly contribute importantly to citizen participation through their efforts to inform and mobilize their members on current policy issues ( Heyrman 1989).

The advocacy role taken by interest groups frequently is framed in the context of the information-sharing function they can perform in modern, postindustrial democracies--activities that A. Paul Pross characterizes as "communication" ( 1986, p. 88) and Jeffrey M. Berry refers to as "educating the public" ( 1984, p. 5). In their role as information sharers, environmental interest groups constitute a potentially critical link between their respective members and policy-making elites. Presthus argues that in both Canada and the United States information is the most valuable benefit government decision makers receive from interest groups ( 1974, p. 215).

The earlier chapters examine the importance of information for interest group members. This chapter focuses on the factors that might facilitate the communication of information both to members and to government officials by environmental interest groups in the two research sites of the province of Ontario and the state of Michigan. To this end, the information provided by leaders of 61 Canadian and American environmental organizations is analyzed to explore relationships among four factors: traditional organizational resources (e.g., staffing level, funding support, size of membership, extent of networking capability), group capacity to generate policy-relevant information, range of group com-

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Citizens, Political Communication, and Interest Groups: Environmental Organizations in Canada and the United States
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Contents v
  • Figure and Tables ix
  • Series Foreword xiii
  • Notes xv
  • Acknowledgments xvii
  • Chapter One - Information, Individuals, and Interest Groups 1
  • Conclusion 31
  • Chapter Two - the Political Culture Context 33
  • Notes 64
  • Chapter Three - Trust in Sources of Policy-Relevant Information 69
  • Notes 94
  • Chapter Four - the Information Incentive 95
  • Notes 120
  • Chapter Five - Organizational Resources and Informational Capacity 123
  • Notes 147
  • Chapter Six - Environmental Groups as Communicators 151
  • Note 170
  • Chapter Seven - Interest Groups, Individuals, and the Technical Information Quandary 171
  • Conclusion 186
  • Appendix Survey Questionnaires 191
  • References 211
  • Index 223
  • ABOUT THE AUTHORS 227
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