Imagine that you own multiple nursing home facilities for the elderly in your local area. Although your business has been lauded by patients, families, and regulators alike, some of your competitors are less diligent about the care they provide. Recently, a local news broadcast aired an investigative report about the deplorable conditions and treatment at some of your competitors’ facilities. The community is outraged, and they demand a significant change in the policies governing the oversight of nursing homes.
While you agree that your patients deserve only the most ethical, respectful, and high-quality care from a nursing home, you are worried that the proposed policies would make your business unprofitable. You cannot continue to provide the quality care for which you are known if you cannot afford to comply with these policies, so you have a specific interest in this policy issue. How can you influence and educate the local public health officials to ensure that the spirit of the increased oversight is maintained, while the practical measures do not force you into bankruptcy?
Whether an interest group consists of one stakeholder, as in this example, or a unified group of similarly minded stakeholders, the primary role of an interest group remains the same. Although interest groups cannot, themselves, set policy, they can work to influence those who do. Some of the more common tactics employed by interest groups include the following:
- Seeking an audience with policymakers to present their positions
- Lobbying policymakers to affect policy change
- Litigating against policies they oppose
- Organizing communities to contact policymakers
- Campaigning to educate the public and/or drive public opinion