“Expertise Capture: How Business Advances Its Interests in Technocratic States”

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North Hall, Room 422, Ogg Room
@ 12:00 pm - 1:00 pm

Dr. Alisha Holland

Presented by NAVE Visiting Scholar, Alisha Holland, Associate Professor, Government Department, Harvard University

About the presentation: When policy is managed by technocratic state officials, how does “capture” occur?  Conventional wisdom is that business must capture regulators or convince politicians to bypass technocrats to advance its interests.  I instead suggest that business can undercut technocracy through a process of expertise capture, meaning the manipulation of the choice of experts who provide key inputs to policy decisions.  Firms recommend consultants who—while seemingly independent and objective—favor approaches or receive private payments to sway policy away from the public interest.  I draw on in-depth interviews to show how expertise capture distorted public policy decisions around urban transportation and energy investments in Peru.  I then generalize the argument by documenting the targets of bribes to outside consultants in the Car Wash corruption scandal.  An implication is that capture can occur under the guise of technocratic decision-making and may be particularly important in states with limited in-house bureaucratic capacity.