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Brothers in arms: An experiment on the alliance puzzle

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  • Ke, Changxia
  • Konrad, Kai A.
  • Morath, Florian

Abstract

Our experimental analysis of alliances in conflicts leads to three main findings. First, even in the absence of repeated interaction, direct contact or communication, free-riding among alliance members is far less pronounced than what would be expected from non-cooperative theory. Second, this possible solidarity among brothers in arms when fighting against an outside enemy may rapidly deteriorate or disappear as soon as the outside enemy disappears. Third, when fighting an outside enemy, brothers in arms may already anticipate future internal conflict about dividing the spoils of winning; however, this subsequent internal conflict does not discourage alliance members from expending much effort in the contest against the external enemy. -- Unsere experimentelle Studie zu Allianzen in Konflikten führt zu drei Hauptergebnissen. Selbst ohne wiederholte Interaktion, direkten Kontakt oder Kommunikation zwischen den Teilnehmern ist das Trittbrettfahren der Mitglieder der Allianz viel weniger stark ausgeprägt, als es die nicht-kooperative Theorie erwarten lassen würde. Diese Solidarität zwischen den Kampfgefährten, die im Wettbewerb mit einem Außenstehenden zu beobachten ist, nimmt jedoch rapide ab, sobald der Gegner verschwunden ist. Im Kampf mit dem externen Gegner können die Kampfgefährten bereits damit rechnen, dass es zu einem internen Konflikt über die Aufteilung der Kriegsbeute kommen wird; dieser folgende interne Verteilungskonflikt hält die Mitglieder der Allianz jedoch nicht davon ab, einen hohen Einsatz im Kampf mit dem externen Gegner zu leisten.

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Paper provided by Social Science Research Center Berlin (WZB) in its series Discussion Papers, Research Professorship & Project "The Future of Fiscal Federalism" with number SP II 2010-18.

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Date of creation: 2010
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Handle: RePEc:zbw:wzbfff:spii201018

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Keywords: Alliance; conflict; contest; free-riding; hold-up problem; solidarity;

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Cited by:
  1. Ke, Changxia & Konrad, Kai A. & Morath, Florian, 2012. "Alliances in the shadow of conflict," Discussion Papers, Research Professorship & Project "The Future of Fiscal Federalism" SP II 2012-104, Social Science Research Center Berlin (WZB).
  2. Sheremeta, Roman, 2013. "Overbidding and Heterogeneous Behavior in Contest Experiments," MPRA Paper 44124, University Library of Munich, Germany.
  3. Herbst, Luisa & Konrad, Kai A. & Morath, Florian, 2013. "Endogenous group formation in experimental contests," Discussion Paper Series of SFB/TR 15 Governance and the Efficiency of Economic Systems 419, Free University of Berlin, Humboldt University of Berlin, University of Bonn, University of Mannheim, University of Munich.
  4. Lacomba, Juan A. & Lagos, Francisco & Reuben, Ernesto & van Winden, Frans, 2013. "On the Escalation and De-Escalation of Conflict," IZA Discussion Papers 7492, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
  5. Beekman, Gonne & Cheung, Stephen L. & Levely, Ian, 2014. "The Effect of Conflict History on Cooperation Within and Between Groups: Evidence from a Laboratory Experiment," IZA Discussion Papers 8287, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).

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