Gorges, Michael J. (1997) "Interest groups, European integration, and the new institutionalism". In: UNSPECIFIED, Seattle, WA. (Unpublished)
A new institutionalist perspective is the best framework for analyzing interest intermediation in the European Union (EU). Four institutional variables are crucial to the analysis: the EU's policy-making authority, formal institutions, policy-making procedures, and decision-making rules. These constitute the next context within which interest groups formulate their responses to integration. Nevertheless, these institutions do not determine interest groups' responses. Intraorganizational factors, such as intragroup bargaining, cost-benefit calculations by member, membership preferences and cohesion, the role played by national-level interest groups or firms, skillful leadership, learning, and simple desire to overcome national, regional, sectoral, ideological, cultural, and policy differences also shape a group's ability to respond to increased integration. While a new institutionalist perspective helps us understand the variety of patterns of interest intermediation in the EU, it also makes it difficult to predict the evolution of interest intermediation in the way the neo-functionalists did. We will, however, be able to answer two important questions: What institutions matter? How do they influence interest intermediation? We can thus explore the nature of policy-making and governance in the EU and shed new light on the ways the EU manages conflict between competing interests. After examining the role institutions play and the interest group response, this paper focuses on the possibilities for rationalization of interest intermediation and on a recent institutional change--the Social Policy Protocol--and its implications for interest intermediation.
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