Interest groups are perceived as vehicles that can enhance the legitimacy of public institutions at the national and supranational level. However, the potential of these organizations to enhance democratic representation is often questioned and has rarely been systematically analysed. In this article, we examine the under-researched area of interest group accountability, a key component for groups to realize their democratic potential. To do this, we take an organization-centric and top-down perspective and develop a tailored analytical framework including three key dimensions—information, discussion and consequences. Drawing on data from a large-scale survey of interest groups active at the EU level, we find considerable variation in the extent to which groups demonstrate practices related to these three accountability dimensions. Furthermore, while receiving funding from EU institutions does not have any significant effect on interest group accountability, we find that organizations representing businesses interests more frequently develop accountability practices related to the dimensions of discussion and consequences, whereas citizen groups are more focused on the information dimension.
Bibliographical notePublisher Copyright: © 2021, The Author(s), under exclusive licence to Springer Nature Limited part of Springer Nature.
The research presented in this article has been supported by the European Science Foundation (10-ECRP-008) (INTEREURO Project) and the Dutch Research Council (Nederlandse Organisatie voor Wetenschappelijk Onderzoek (NWO)), grant no. 452–14-012 (Vidi scheme).
A very early version of this article was presented at the ECPR General Conference in Oslo, 6–9 September 2017.