Theses and Dissertations

Issuing Body

Mississippi State University


Emison, Gerald A.

Committee Member

Breaux, David A.

Committee Member

Goodman, Doug

Committee Member

Travis, Rick L.

Date of Degree


Document Type

Dissertation - Open Access


Public Policy and Administration

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D)


College of Arts and Sciences


Department of Political Science and Public Administration


The need for a deeper understanding of public policy instruments is well established in public administration literature. Growth in ethanol and alternative fuel policy instruments across the country and the importance of these policies to national energy security only adds urgency to this need. Policy instruments are defined as tools governments use to address public policy problems. Public policy scholars traditionally focus on processes of policy making or the policies, with little attention paid to how governments accomplish policy goals. This dissertation shifts the focus to policy instruments to fill this void in public administration scholarship. It examines factors that influence policy instruments chosen by policy makers in the fifty states. Using the lens of biofuel policies, it links three diverse public policy theories: Policy Instrument Theory, New Public Management (NPM) Theory, and Political Culture Theory, into a single model of policy instrument choice. The dependent variable is derived using cluster analysis methods and results in four distinct groups of states based on state level biofuel policy instrument characteristics. These groups are used to test proposed hypotheses regarding state level characteristics including levels of NPM reform, individual state political culture and elite political ideology as well as fundamental measures of state policy capacity of state wealth, impacts of economic sectors, and political interests. Multinomial logistic regression analysis is used to establish the likelihood of membership in one group of states versus other groups with specific instrument characteristics. The results conclude that policy makers in states make different instrument choices based on state level characteristics. Wealthy states choose policy instruments that rely upon changing citizen behavior rather than direct government intervention. The levels of agricultural and manufacturing employment influence instrument choice. Agricultural employment was the most influential variable introduced to the model. These economic sectors did not appear to receive favorable treatment as policy instrument theorists contend. Strong evidence was found for a connection between political ideology and policy instrument choice. States with liberal elite ideology choose different biofuel policy instruments than states with conservative elite ideology. The research offered initial evidence that NPM philosophies translate to policy instrument adoption.