This study examines the influence of interest groups on a state's willingness to pursue their most favourable decision during a WTO dispute. States are committed to their WTO agreements, but they also have to act as a watchdog for their domestic industries in states that may not hold WTO agreements in high esteem. Interest group influence on the state has been examined through case studies, but never at the systemic level. I hypothesize that states being pressured by many interest groups are more likely to pursue a dispute into the higher levels of dispute resolution. I test this using data from the WTO as well as interests groups from around the world. I find that complainant states are more likely to be pressured by their interest groups to pursue a favourable outcome rather than settle or accept an earlier decision.
I will go anywhere in the world to open new markets for American products. And I will not stand by when our competitors don't play by the rules. We've brought trade cases against China at nearly twice the rate as the last administration, and it's made a difference…. It's not fair when foreign manufacturers have a leg up on ours only because they're heavily subsidized. - Barack Obama, January 24, 2012Journal of World Trade