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Cooperation and the common enemy effect

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  • K.J.M. De Jaegher
  • B. Hoyer

Abstract

This paper presents a game-theoretic rationale for the beneficial effect of a common enemy on cooperation. In a defence game against a common natural threat, the value of the public good of defence is equal to the sum of the players’ defensive efforts. The game therefore takes the form of a prisoner’s dilemma, leading to free-riding. When the same defence game is played against a common enemy, the value of the public good of defence is equal to the smallest defensive effort. The game now takes the form of a stag hunt, so that a cooperative equilibrium becomes possible. For this reason, an informed and benevolent government may not want to inform the public that it is facing a common natural threat rather than a common enemy. At the same time, the common enemy has an incentive to mimic nature, and perform only random rather than targeted attacks.

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File URL: http://dspace.library.uu.nl/bitstream/handle/1874/272570/Discussionpaper12-24.pdf
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Bibliographic Info

Paper provided by Utrecht School of Economics in its series Working Papers with number 12-24.

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Date of creation: Dec 2012
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Handle: RePEc:use:tkiwps:1224

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Keywords: Common Enemy Effect; Defence Games; Prisoner’s Dilemma; Stag Hunt;

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  1. Friederike Mengel, 2007. "Learning Across Games," Working Papers. Serie AD 2007-05, Instituto Valenciano de Investigaciones Económicas, S.A. (Ivie).
  2. Dan Kovenock & Brian Roberson, 2007. "Coalitional Colonel Blotto Games with Application to the Economics of Alliances," Purdue University Economics Working Papers 1207, Purdue University, Department of Economics.
  3. B. Hoyer, 2013. "Network Disruption and the Common Enemy Effect," Working Papers 12-06, Utrecht School of Economics.
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  9. Cornes, Richard, 1993. "Dyke Maintenance and Other Stories: Some Neglected Types of Public Goods," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 108(1), pages 259-71, February.
  10. Theodore McLauchlin & Wendy Pearlman, 2012. "Out-Group Conflict, In-Group Unity?," Journal of Conflict Resolution, Peace Science Society (International), vol. 56(1), pages 41-66, February.
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  12. John C. Harsanyi & Reinhard Selten, 1988. "A General Theory of Equilibrium Selection in Games," MIT Press Books, The MIT Press, edition 1, volume 1, number 0262582384, December.
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  14. Thomas Riechmann & Joachim Weimann, 2004. "Competition as a Coordination Device. Experimental Evidence from a Minimum Effort Coordination Game," Game Theory and Information 0405011, EconWPA.
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