Theses and Dissertations

Issuing Body

Mississippi State University


Goodman, Doug

Committee Member

Breaux, David A.

Committee Member

Clynch, Edward J.

Committee Member

Britton, Hannah E.

Date of Degree


Document Type

Dissertation - Open Access


Public Policy and Administration

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy


College of Arts and Sciences


Department of Political Science and Public Administration


Understanding the influence of interest groups in the public policy process is vital to comprehending how public policy is created and implemented. This dissertation analyzes the influence of interest groups on the states that were involved with the negotiations of two river basin interstate compacts in the Southeastern United States. The compacts originated when the downstream states of Alabama and Florida became concerned about the amount of water the metropolitan area of Atlanta was withdrawing from the Chattahoochee River. This study considers which interest groups were most influential in formulating each state?s position during the negotiation process. While literature exists in the study of river basin interstate compacts in the western states, a gap in the literature concerning water policy in the Southeastern United States is filled by this study. This dissertation considers the Western compacts and explores the similarities and differences between the compacts negotiated in the Southeast within the context of the public policy process. Federalism is explored not only with the states but with agencies from the federal government and their role in the compact negotiation process. The relationship between the federal agencies and the states sets the stage in which the policy process is conducted. The data were collected using a mixed methods approach of in-depth interviews and a survey. The interview subjects included individuals intimately involved with the negotiation process. The survey respondents were individuals who possessed at least a passing awareness of the compacts and how they would affect their jobs, organizations, or constituents. Final analysis concludes that several interest groups were able to wield enough power to influence not only their state, but also the entire negotiation process. The influence exerted by some of the interest groups prevented the compacts from existing beyond the negotiation period. As a result, the compacts expired and the states have resorted to the federal courts in search of a ruling on allocating water. The lack of formal federal involvement as well as involvement of a neutral party in the negotiation process are also vital to explaining why the compacts expired.