Workshop: The relationship between political institutions and the lobbying industry

March 5, 2019  -  9am

University of Antwerp  

Please confirm your attendance to Sharon Belli by February 27, 2019 (14.00 PM)

Guest lectures and master class 

Prof. Tim M. Lapira - James Madison University

Dr. Tim LaPira is an associate professor of political science at James Madison University, where he has taught since 2010. He previously taught at the College of Charleston and American University. He earned his Ph.D. in political science from Rutgers University in 2008. He also worked as a legislative assistant to a member of Congress and as a researcher for the Center for Responsive Politics, where he was responsible for creating the Lobbying and Revolving Door databases on His book, Revolving Door Lobbying: Public Service, Private Interest, and the Unequal Representation of Interests (co-authored with Herschel F. Thomas, University of Texas at Arlington), was published by the University Press of Kansas in 2017. The book reports on original data on more than 1,600 lobbyists’ professional biographies, which we link to data from more than 50,000 lobbying disclosure reports. The book is the first to shed light on how common it is for people to move from government service to private sector lobbying, who does so, and why it matters for interest representation and legislative influence.


Mr. Raphaël Kergueno - Policy Officer at Transparency International 

Policy officer for Transparency International EU, working on projects related to lobbying, conflict of interests and ethics in the EU institutions. As part of the Money & Politics team, he provided empirical research on the revolving phenomenon in the EU institutions and outside activities of Members of the European Parliament. Raphaël also handles EU Integrity Watch, an online platform that collects data on lobbying, financial interests, and revolving door cases. He currently leads a Commission-funded project to develop national versions in EU member states. He holds a BA in politics and international relations from the University of Kent and an MA in European Studies from Maastricht University.


Over the past years, former EU Commissioners’ private career paths have been the subject of intense public contestation. The movement of individuals from the private sector to public office and vice versa is known as “the revolving” door phenomenon. One need only to think of the “Barroso Gate” scandal. Jose Manuel Barroso led the European Commission for a decade until 2014. His move to start advising Goldman Sachs’ clients on Brexit triggered a spate of criticism and substantial media attention. In the past few years, we have been witnessing unprecedented attention for the revolving door phenomenon from European civil society and in news media debates. Controversial cases of post-employment transitions have paved the way for more stringent EU transparency regulations. Revolving door practices are often associated with regulatory capture (Fox, 1974; Dal Bo, 2006; Barkow, 2010), conflict of interest and framed as a catalyst for “institutional corruption.” These associations, although not empirically tested, harm the reputation and legitimacy of public officials and by extension of the EU political system. However, yet, mobility between public and private sector might also facilitate the development of civil servant skills, through gaining experience in the private sector (OECD, 2010). So far, few scholars were concerned with the benefit that the exchange between public and private sector can bring to public administrations, such as opportunity for innovation, generational change, and labor market dynamism. In this workshop, the idea is to open up the discussion accounting for risks and benefits associated with the shift of incoming and outgoing skills. 

Since the 1980s, studies in the United States have explored the revolving door practices and the effects of personnel exchange between the public and the lobbying industry (Milbrath, 1976; Salisbury, Johnson, Heinz, Lauman, & Nelson, 1989; LaPira and Thomas 2017). As a result, we now have extensive knowledge about Washington’s magnitude of the phenomenon and its implications. In Europe however, we still lack systematic analysis. Most of the literature is based on empirics contextualized in the US. Accounting for differences and similarities with the American political context, this workshop intends to open an EU-centered discussion on the revolving door phenomenon looking at politicians’ and lobbyists’ career paths. 

With this workshop, we aim to discuss to what extent personal interests shape relationships between interest representatives and political actors. And what are the implications for the representation of the general interest?

Questions include, but are not limited to the following. 

From an interest group perspective:

  • To what extent do interest organizations benefit from revolving door practices, it at all?
  • How do lobbyists career paths change the way interests are represented? 
  • Do revolving door lobbyists work on different issues, compared with non-revolving door lobbyists?

From the regulators perspective:

  • Why and when do public officials obtain positions in interest organizations?
  • To what extent do politicians use lobbying activities to build their career? 
  • To what extent regulators respond differently to revolving door lobbyists, if at all? 


9.00 - 9.10 - Coffee
9.10 - 9.15 - Brief Introduction & Overview


Keynote Talks


9.15 - 9. 45 - Access all areas: when EU politicians become lobbyists

Raphaël Kergueno

Transparency International (TI)

9.45 - 10.15 - Revolving Door Lobbying in the United States

Prof. Tim M. Lapira James Madison University


10.15 - 10.30 - Joint Discussion

10.30 - 10.45 - Coffee Break


Presentations & Discussions


10.45 - 11.00 Predictors of Interest Organization Hiring Decisions in Brussels

Presenter: Sharon Belli, Phd Student, University of Antwerp


11.00 - 11.15 Discussion


11.15 - 11.30 Hiring Revolvers as a Route to Influence? Exploring the political and economic effects of the revolving door in the European Union
Presenter: Jens Adriaan van der Ploeg, Phd Student, University of Copenhagen


11.30 - 11.45 Discussion


11.45 - 12..00 Interest group leadership and revolving doors

Presenter: Joost Berkhout, Professor, Universiteit van Amsterdam


12.00 - 12.15 Discussion


12.15 - 12.30 Joint Discussion


12. 30 Lunch and Networking