A previous version of this article was presented at the Annual Meeting of the American Political Science Association in Washington, DC, September 2010. We thank Irwin Morris for helpful comments.
Generalist Interest Organizations and Interest System Density: A Test of the Competitive Exclusion Hypothesis*
Version of Record online: 12 JAN 2012
© 2012 by the Southwestern Social Science Association
Social Science Quarterly
Volume 93, Issue 1, pages 21–41, March 2012
How to Cite
Lowery, D., Gray, V., Kirkland, J. and Harden, J. J. (2012), Generalist Interest Organizations and Interest System Density: A Test of the Competitive Exclusion Hypothesis*. Social Science Quarterly, 93: 21–41. doi: 10.1111/j.1540-6237.2011.00834.x
- Issue online: 15 FEB 2012
- Version of Record online: 12 JAN 2012
We examine the effects of interest community density on generalist interest organizations. A core element of population ecology theory is competitive exclusion, which suggests two hypotheses. First, through niche partitioning of the issue space among similar organizations and the comparative advantages of specialist organizations, generalists in heavily populated systems struggle to secure members more than their counterparts in less densely populated ones. Second, surviving generalists narrow the scope of their lobbying activities to fewer issues on which they hold comparative advantage.
We test both hypotheses through regression analysis of data on the mobilization and lobbying focus of U.S. state Chambers of Commerce.
Both participation in state Chambers and the number of bills that Chambers track decline as the business interest community becomes more densely populated.
We conclude that even state Chambers—the old bulls of the lobbying pasture—are powerfully influenced by competition among business interest organizations.