, PhD, Associate Professor, Faculty of Economics, South-West University “Neofit Rilski”, Bulgaria
We are witnessing the pressure from public interest groups that take important business decisions. There are various discussions about what activities should be seen as lobbying and which do not meet the criteria for lobbying. This dilemma can be considered from a theoretical and practical point of view. The broad public does not look positively and perceives lobbying as an illegal and selfish activity very often strongly connected with or bordering on corruption. The experts have provided numerous definitions of lobbying as a transparent and legitimate way of representing the interests of minority groups.
The interest groups are trying to influence the decision-making process for their private benefit and therefore intervene in the legislative process in order to realize the asymmetric personal benefit. But the interests of society may be on the opposite side. These two principles may conflict in certain cases. The subject of our analysis is the behavior of groups or organizations that we can assume that they should serve the public interest. The theory of personal interest focuses on the individual’s analysis as a promoter of his own goals, wishing to maximize his personal benefit. The boundary between the fulfillment of public or individual interest is the point of contradiction, particularly with regard to lobbying benefits or damage to society and the ethics of lobbying.
This paper summarizes the arguments and counterarguments within the scientific discussion on the ethics of lobbying as a beginning of researches of this problem in Bulgarian society.
The main purpose of the research is to analyze the lobbying ‘phenomenon and lobbying case studies in Bulgarian practice. The systematization of literary sources and the approaches to solving the problem of lobbying ethics shows that the practice of lobbying in Bulgaria does not differ significantly from the world experience. In Bulgaria, as well as in countries with developed market relations, the business systematically attempts to influence directly on the process of business rules ‘creating, thus distorting asymmetrically economic interests and motives in their favor. Very often, these interests are detrimental to the other participants in the economic system.
The importance of the solution to this scientific problem is the adoption of European rules of lobbying ethics by building an adequate legal basis, including a law on lobbying. The need for such a law is tangible due to the need to regulate relations between Bulgarian and foreign investors and their ability to influence the decision-making.
The study of the ethics of lobbyism in the article is done in the following logical sequence: first, the introduction analyzes the tasks and describes the methods to be used, secondly clarifying the semantics of the term, third a review of the literature, examples of the Bulgarian business practice where the business has managed to force the legislative bodies to make decisions exclusively for its benefit.
Due to the nature of the research question, the only possible option of the author is a quantitative analysis of digital data collected from secondary sources (daily, periodical press and internet sources).
The author faces the challenging problem of the limited availability of data on the analyzed cases, which hinders the overall review of the business practice. Most of the publicly available data are the result of discussions and own research of materials from the work of public institutions.
The study empirically confirms and theoretically proves that lobbying as a form of mediation between the state and interested parties is an opportunity to place the state and its institutions in a position of asymmetric justice in making important decisions for society. There may be suspicion or at least a threat to the weak or unsettled resilience of democratic societies.
The results of the survey may be useful for state institutions in determining the permissible level of influence of the business on the work of legislative and executive power.
Keywords: lobbying, interest group, regulation of lobbying, case study, lobbying practices.
JEL Classification: A14, L29.
Cite as: Stavrova, E. (2019). The Lobbying in Post-communist Time: Bulgarian Case. Business Ethics and Leadership, 3(2), 18-28. http://doi.org/10.21272/bel.3(2).18-28.2019.
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