Public Lands Politics: Interest Group Influence on the Forest Service and the Bureau of Land Management

By Paul J. Culhane | Go to book overview

Though public participation requirements and anticipated reactions style of decision making are logical mechanisms of group influence, that influence needs to be thought of in more neutral terms than "demands" and "pressure." "Responsiveness" to "public input" is consistent with the reputation for the nonpolitical, professional administration the service has maintained since its inception and the bureau has sought to attain since the difficult years of the 1940s. (Indeed, all public bureaucracies find such a reputation beneficial.) Nor is it surprising that low-level professional administrators escape heavy-handed interest group pressure. Perhaps because government decision makers prefer to be treated as rational and well-intentioned, the most legitimate and effective style of lobbying, even congressional lobbying, is the low-keyed, nonthreatening, "informational" strategy, notwithstanding the muckraking image of Washington lobbyists as arm-twisting wheeler-dealers.23

Reports of the anticipated reactions style of decision making and statements by administrators that they considered the effects of their decisions on all their local publics, however, might merely mask some other kind of decision making, such as authoritarian professionalism. Given the lack of clear consensus about influence based on the subjective observations of the participants in local public lands politics, we need some concrete evidence that groups really did affect agency policy through such mechanisms as the intuitive anticipated reactions process.


NOTES
1.
See Herbert Simon, Administrative Behavior ( New York, Macmillan, 1947) pp. 1-8.
2.
The four indicators in table 9-2 were factor-analyzed along with the administrative experience indicators (years with agency and so forth) discussed on page 147, and in table 5-4. The first factor, "strength of supervision" (eigenvalue = 2.60), consisted of consultation (loading = .90), reports (.84), instructions (.73), and distance from supervisor (-.72). The second factor, "experience" (eigenvalue = 1.97), included years in agency (loading = .61), years in position (.87), and years with present supervisor (.83). The factor matrix was quite simple, with the supervision variables loading low on the experience factor and vice versa. For full statistics and a discussion of this factor analysis, see Paul Culhane, Politics and the Public Lands, Ph.D. dissertation, Northwestern University, Evanston, Ill., June 1977, pp. 172-173 (University Microfilms no. 77-32292).

-285-

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