Meta-Strategic Lobbying: The 1998 Steel Imports Case
In 1998, the domestic steel industry in the United States devised and executed a complex and sophisticated effort to achieve an effective non-market response to a sudden, persistent, and damaging surge of imported steel. This campaign lasted until 2002, when President George W. Bush invoked Section 201 of the U.S. trade laws to impose tariffs on imports of most steel products. This case of the steel industry's trade policy campaign provides an opportunity to examine selected models of protection-seeking industries and lobbying to ask why and how the steel coalition achieved this extraordinary governmental response. These questions are explored though a descriptive case of the steel industry's protection-seeking campaign followed by a comparative examination of previous models of protection-seeking firms, and lobbying to achieve protectionist policies. A comparison with selected models of the determinants of protection-seeking and factors affecting lobbying strategies show that most, almost all, were present in the steel case. In fact, a meta-strategic approach that transcends the customary understanding of lobbying is suggested in a complex policy environment. Such an environment can be characterized by: the need to influence multiple governmental entities – legislative, regulatory, executive; the desire for multiple outcomes with varying levels of specificity – laws or resolutions, administrative rulings, policy choices; interactions between different levels and branches of government; employment of coordinated interrelated lobbying techniques; and simultaneity of these factors.
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