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How can nonprofit advocacy influence policymakers? A survey experiment on the effects of strategy choice

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Abstract
We investigate the effectiveness of direct and indirect modes of advocacy strategies in shaping decision-makers willingness to adopt with NPO input during the policy process. We define advocacy effectiveness as the ability to persuade decision-makers to act upon NPO input. Following the definition of Craig Jenkins (2006, p. 267) that advocacy entails “any attempt to influence the decisions of any institutional elite on behalf of a collective interest”, we present a survey experiment to all Flemish municipal councillors and members of municipal administrative management teams. We ask respondents how they would react to different advocacy approaches during the agenda-setting, formulation, and decision-making phase of the policy cycle. In this way, we want to find out 1/what effective ways of influencing policy are and 2/ in which phase of the policy process the impact is greatest. Our vignette experiment is based on advocacy campaign efforts by Flemish government-funded community NPOs focusing on representing people living in poverty. These associations are officially recognized and funded by the national and local governments and are actively encouraged to translate concerns into political claims (Verschuere & De Corte, 2015). Research interest in advocacy effectiveness is on the rise because of the infusion of NPM management strategies in participatory processes, which some fear would diminish the advocacy strength and the agency of NPOs in liberal (Mosley, 2012), corporatist (De Corte, Arys, & Roose, 2022) and social democratic welfare states (Arvidson, 2018). Previous research shows that as the cooperation between the government and NPOs becomes closer, less indirect action is taken and professionalized advocacy is preferred (Eikenberry and Kluver 2004; Jang and Feiock 2007 ; Minkoff and Powell 2006). It has also been established that if policymakers regard these forms of policy participation as more efficient, their willingness to engage with inputs from interest groups increases (Moynihan 2003; Yang and Pandey 2011). This makes these strategies theoretically more effective from the point of view of NPOs who want to influence policy. In this experiment, our independent variables in a 2x2 full factorial design deal with the strategies employed to increase advocacy effectiveness in a context in which nonprofits are expected to become increasingly efficient partners during participatory policy processes. We test how different modes of operation (direct vs indirect tactics) & representation (professional advocates vs self-advocates) affect decision-makers their willingness to engage with NPO input. We hypothesize that the use of professional advocates over training and coaching self-advocates (Mosley, 2012) and direct advocacy tactics (Onyx, et al., 2010; Verschuere & De Corte, 2015) would increase the willingness of decision-makers to use NPO input thus increasing advocacy effectiveness. We test our hypothesis in a repeated measures ANOVA model, estimating the weights assigned to the levels of the different attributes by respondents to arrive at an overall response to the vignettes. We end the presentation with a discussion of policy implications and directions for future research.

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MLA
Brusseel, Aaron, et al. “How Can Nonprofit Advocacy Influence Policymakers? A Survey Experiment on the Effects of Strategy Choice.” ARNOVA 2021, 51th Annual Conference, Abstracts 2022., 2022.
APA
Brusseel, A., Raeymaeckers, P., & Verschuere, B. (2022). How can nonprofit advocacy influence policymakers? A survey experiment on the effects of strategy choice. ARNOVA 2021, 51th Annual Conference, Abstracts 2022. Presented at the 51ST ARNOVA Conference, Raleigh.
Chicago author-date
Brusseel, Aaron, Peter Raeymaeckers, and Bram Verschuere. 2022. “How Can Nonprofit Advocacy Influence Policymakers? A Survey Experiment on the Effects of Strategy Choice.” In ARNOVA 2021, 51th Annual Conference, Abstracts 2022.
Chicago author-date (all authors)
Brusseel, Aaron, Peter Raeymaeckers, and Bram Verschuere. 2022. “How Can Nonprofit Advocacy Influence Policymakers? A Survey Experiment on the Effects of Strategy Choice.” In ARNOVA 2021, 51th Annual Conference, Abstracts 2022.
Vancouver
1.
Brusseel A, Raeymaeckers P, Verschuere B. How can nonprofit advocacy influence policymakers? A survey experiment on the effects of strategy choice. In: ARNOVA 2021, 51th annual conference, Abstracts 2022. 2022.
IEEE
[1]
A. Brusseel, P. Raeymaeckers, and B. Verschuere, “How can nonprofit advocacy influence policymakers? A survey experiment on the effects of strategy choice,” in ARNOVA 2021, 51th annual conference, Abstracts 2022., Raleigh, 2022.
@inproceedings{01GJMW08PMZWK76BX6P2KRC6WR,
  abstract     = {{We investigate the effectiveness of direct and indirect modes of advocacy strategies in shaping decision-makers willingness to adopt with NPO input during the policy process. We define advocacy effectiveness as the ability to persuade decision-makers to act upon NPO input. Following the definition of Craig Jenkins (2006, p. 267) that advocacy entails “any attempt to influence the decisions of any institutional elite on behalf of a collective interest”, we present a survey experiment to all Flemish municipal councillors and members of municipal administrative management teams.

We ask respondents how they would react to different advocacy approaches during the agenda-setting, formulation, and decision-making phase of the policy cycle. In this way, we want to find out 1/what effective ways of influencing policy are and 2/ in which phase of the policy process the impact is greatest.

Our vignette experiment is based on advocacy campaign efforts by Flemish government-funded community NPOs focusing on representing people living in poverty. These associations are officially recognized and funded by the national and local governments and are actively encouraged to translate concerns into political claims (Verschuere & De Corte, 2015). 

Research interest in advocacy effectiveness is on the rise because of the infusion of NPM management strategies in participatory processes, which some fear would diminish the advocacy strength and the agency of NPOs in liberal (Mosley, 2012), corporatist (De Corte, Arys, & Roose, 2022) and social democratic welfare states (Arvidson, 2018). 

Previous research shows that as the cooperation between the government and NPOs becomes closer, less indirect action is taken and professionalized advocacy is preferred (Eikenberry and Kluver 2004; Jang and Feiock 2007 ; Minkoff and Powell 2006). It has also been established that if policymakers regard these forms of policy participation as more efficient, their willingness to engage with inputs from interest groups increases (Moynihan 2003; Yang and Pandey 2011). This makes these strategies theoretically more effective from the point of view of NPOs who want to influence policy.

In this experiment, our independent variables in a 2x2 full factorial design deal with the strategies employed to increase advocacy effectiveness in a context in which nonprofits are expected to become increasingly efficient partners during participatory policy processes. We test how different modes of operation (direct vs indirect tactics) & representation (professional advocates vs self-advocates) affect decision-makers their willingness to engage with NPO input. We hypothesize that the use of professional advocates over training and coaching self-advocates (Mosley, 2012) and direct advocacy tactics (Onyx, et al., 2010; Verschuere & De Corte, 2015) would increase the willingness of decision-makers to use NPO input thus increasing advocacy effectiveness. We test our hypothesis in a repeated measures ANOVA model, estimating the weights assigned to the levels of the different attributes by respondents to arrive at an overall response to the vignettes.

We end the presentation with a discussion of policy implications and directions for future research.}},
  author       = {{Brusseel, Aaron and Raeymaeckers, Peter and Verschuere, Bram}},
  booktitle    = {{ARNOVA 2021, 51th annual conference, Abstracts 2022.}},
  language     = {{und}},
  location     = {{Raleigh}},
  title        = {{How can nonprofit advocacy influence policymakers? A survey experiment on the effects of strategy choice}},
  url          = {{https://web.cvent.com/event/123cf8e1-8f3c-44a6-86d3-97c3c65838e1/websitePage:28c355bb-7d94-448c-9621-96ff8433f32f}},
  year         = {{2022}},
}