Dr. Evelien Willems's research focuses on lobbying and interest representation in Belgium and other European countries. Specifically, she studies the interplay between interest groups, public opinion and public policy. The main questions she tries to answer in her research are when and how interest groups strengthen or weaken the connection between citizens' policy preferences and policy outcomes. She completed her PhD on this topic in February 2021. Currently, she is further developing this research agenda as a postdoctoral researcher. Her methodological expertise includes content analysis of news coverage, legislation and government documents, and survey methodologies in function of statistical analysis purposes (R and STATA).
The road to advocacy success: Analyzing the mechanisms shaping issue-specific interactions among interest groups and policymakers.
AbstractInterest groups often play a key role in public policymaking. The lengthy and complex nature of many policy processes, however, means that interest groups typically have to overcome various hurdles to gain influence. Next to agenda-setting success, groups must be effective advocates in several decision-making venues. This project proposes a novel analytical framework connecting interest group literature with social movement studies to (1) analyze intermittent advocacy successes, both in terms of attracting attention for issue priorities and attaining policy positions; and (2) assess the moderating effects of politicization and public opinion on how advocacy shapes the course of policy processes. The project conceptualizes the policy process as a sequence of distinct episodes characterized by whether and how interest groups and policymakers interact among each other and thereby shape the final policy outcome. Empirically, news media and policy content analyses are combined with elite interviews to construct a timeline of interactions between interest groups and policymakers on a medium-N of issues spanning the 2014-2024 Belgian legislative periods. Methodologically, time series and qualitative comparative analysis methods will be used to dissect interaction processes and link them to advocacy successes.
- Research Project