Project description

“Knowledge is Power”.
Boundaries of Political Consulting and Lobbying in the Political Decision-Making Process –
political expert culture in a German-Polish comparison.

The research project is a continuation of the project: “<<Knowledge is Power>>: Boundaries of Political Consulting and Lobbying in the Political Decision-Making Process”, which analysed politicians’ perceptions of political consulting processes in Germany and Poland.

The comparative analysis is based on the assumption that in each country specific policy advisory solutions are developed, corresponding to the given political, institutional and legal, as well as historical and cultural circumstances. The starting point for comparative research is the concept of ‘Political Expert Culture’ (PEC), understood as a system of norms, procedures and instruments managing the relations between experts and political decision-makers, enabling analytical coverage of various aspects concerning political consultancy processes. This concept assumes the existence of different models of ‘PEC’, formed as a result of different systemic conditions in individual countries. Based on the findings made during the previous project, with reference to the literature search on the one hand and in-depth interviews conducted with politicians on the other, we have distinguished four different types of ‘PEC’. As basic differentiating criteria we have adopted the level and scope of formal, legal, and institutional regulation, and the conditions that determine the relationship between politicians and experts, including the distance and practice of this relationship. While the legal and institutional analysis was carried out through desk-research and in-depth review of literature and source materials, the analysis of dependencies, norms, expectations, evaluations and factors that have a real impact on the way policy advice works requires in-depth interviews with experts involved in the consultation processes. Comparing the information obtained through this research procedure with the results of interviews previously conducted with politicians will provide insight into the subjective beliefs of the politician-expert relationship of both parties. This will be crucial in defining the so-called “soft conditions” of the consultative process and will contribute to maintaining or modifying the acquired “PEC” concept. Therefore, in order to verify the conceptual assumptions made in the first part of the project and to carry out a typological classification of expert culture in Poland and Germany, the perception from the position of politicians constituting the original object of the study is to be supplemented by the perspective of experts participating in political consultative processes. The study will mainly focus on how advisors understand their role within political advisory processes and how they perceive the criteria of legitimacy and legality of different types of advisory activities in the political decision-making process.  Additionally, the access of advisers and lobbyists to political actors and the functioning of the statutory regulations in the area of policy advice, subject of the advice and its tasks, as well as ways of recruiting, working and communicating between advisers and politicians will be analysed within the project.

To do so, the following questions were formulated:

  • How do the actors of advisory processes in Poland and Germany define the limits between “scientific political advisory” and “lobbying”?
  • Are there differences in the types of political expert culture in Poland and Germany and how do these differences demonstrate themselves?
  • What is the practice of legitimising advisory and lobbying in political decision-making depending on the expert culture developed in a specific country?

In addition to the central research topics, other aspects of political consultancy and lobbying will also be considered in order to highlight this field of research as comprehensively as possible, which has so far – especially due to the lack of empirical data – been insufficiently explored in a comparative German-Polish perspective. In particular the increasing role of the media within consultation processes, differences in the structure and advisory resources of Members’ offices, perceptions of the so-called “revolving door effect” in both countries, and opportunities for citizen participation in political consultation processes will be examined. Furthermore, the perception of the new legal regulations for the introduction of a mandatory lobbyist register, which came into force in Germany on October 1st, 2022, will be investigated by means of a corresponding survey of German parliamentarians.

This project is a pilot study. The aim is to analyse similarities and differences in both the structure and modus operandi of political consultancy and lobbying in Western and Central and Eastern European countries, considering their historical and cultural backgrounds. The purpose of this analysis is to identify the most relevant problems within policy advice and lobbying. Taking the example of Poland and Germany as a case study of the relationship between ‘old’ and ‘new’ EU member states will provide an excellent basis for more extensive comparative research aimed at filling the research gap identified in this field in light of the increasing importance of policy advice in both political practice and political science debate.