HKS Authors

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Democracy is premised on the ability of individuals, often working with others, to influence policies affecting them. However, existing theory cannot always explain why some organized efforts are more influential than others. We introduce the concept of civic feedbacks, arguing that the ways organizations engage individuals in collective action have feedback effects that shape the strategic position of organizations, the options available to leaders, and the likelihood of policy influence. The mechanisms through which civic feedbacks operate include the depth of accountability to the constituency, the network of elite relationships to which leaders subsequently have access, and their ongoing ability to recruit a committed and flexible constituency willing to engage new issues. Analyzing how these feedbacks redound to organizations over time enhances our ability to explain civic organizations’ differential rates of political influence. The concept of civic feedbacks returns organizations and organizational strategy to the center of the study of political influence.


Han, Hahrie, Andrea Louise Campbell, and Elizabeth McKenna. "Civic Feedbacks: Linking Collective Action, Organizational Strategy, and Influence over Public Policy." Perspectives on Politics 21.4 (December 2023): 1432 -1446.