Lobbying regulatory practices: a systemtic scoping review and Delphi study

Dr. Mathieu Ouimet

The first objective of the study was to identify and examine empirical studies that have examined the effect of lobbying regulations on the behaviour of lobbyists, particularly with regard to the disclosure of their activities on a transparency register. Following an increase in sanctions, will lobbyists tend to disclose their lobbying activities more, or, on the contrary, will they be encouraged not to disclose them in order to limit the risks incurred by the increased severity of the sanction? The first research objective was achieved through the conduct of a systematic scoping review of empirical studies that examined the effect of either variations or changes in the regulation of lobbying on the disclosure behaviour of lobbyists. A total of 12 studies have been identified based on explicit inclusion criteria. These studies show that the effect varies according to the component of the regulation that is modified (e.g., definition of lobbying and lobbyists vs. obligations, prohibitions and sanctions). But how can lobby laws and regulations be changed? Although the review of the scientific literature presented in the first part of this study provides some guidance, it is not sufficient because, according to the principles of evidence-based practice (Sackett et al. 1996), the results of scientific research cannot be the only information input to the decision-making process that would also benefit from the opinions of expertise holders and beneficiaries. The second objective of this study was to gather the opinions of three categories of experts: Quebec lobbyists, lobbyist regulators in Canada and international researchers who have empirically studied the effects of lobbying regulation. The second research objective was achieved through the conduct of a two-step Delphi study conducted on the Qualtrics platform. The results show that the lobbyist on the panel are generally less favourable to regulating lobbying than regulators and researchers. On the other hand, the relevance of almost 75% of the 98 statements in the Delphi questionnaire achieved consensus among the panel's lobbyists, suggesting an openness to change insofar as many of these statements are not currently covered in their jurisdiction (Quebec).