The allocation of distributive program benefits and the maintenance of interest groups
Blair, LaVonna Jeanne
Stein, Robert M.
Doctor of Philosophy
This thesis explores the relationship between federal program recipients and interest groups. It is argued here that interest groups attempt to claim credit for federal program benefits. Claiming credit efforts are the activities interest group leaders engage in that are designed to call attention to the group and generate program recipient support of the group. More directly, credit claiming for program benefits is offered as another means for an interest group to solve its collective action problem. Here, instead of interest group leaders having to produce and provide selective benefits, they are expected to take advantage of their involvement with particular federal programs to resolve their maintenance problems. It is further argued that effective credit claiming must have affective, evaluative, and behavioral impacts on program recipients. The credit claiming model is explored at both the macro-level and micro-levels. Interest group leaders were surveyed to determine whether they engaged in credit claiming for particular programs. Recipients of these same programs were also surveyed in order to determine their relationship with the groups that speak on behalf of their program(s). Key determinants of the relationship between interest groups and program recipients are found to be: the nature of the federal program benefit (particularistic versus collective); the presence of other interest groups; and the credit claiming activities of the interest group.