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Balance of power and the propensity of conflict

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  • Herbst, Luisa
  • Konrad, Kai A.
  • Morath, Florian

Abstract

We study the role of an imbalance in fighting strengths when players bargain in the shadow of conflict. Our experimental results suggest: In a simple bargaining game with an exogenous mediation proposal, the likelihood of conflict is independent of the balance of power. If bargaining involves endogenous demand choices, however, the likelihood of conflict is higher if power is more imbalanced. Even though endogenous bargaining outcomes reflect the players' unequal fighting strengths, strategic uncertainty causes outcomes to be most efficient when power is balanced. In turn, the importance of exogenous mediation proposals depends on the balance of power.

Suggested Citation

  • Herbst, Luisa & Konrad, Kai A. & Morath, Florian, 2017. "Balance of power and the propensity of conflict," Games and Economic Behavior, Elsevier, vol. 103(C), pages 168-184.
  • Handle: RePEc:eee:gamebe:v:103:y:2017:i:c:p:168-184
    DOI: 10.1016/j.geb.2015.12.013
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    Keywords

    Conflict; Balance of power; Contest; Bargaining; Nash demand game; Conflict resolution; Asymmetries; Experiment;

    JEL classification:

    • C78 - Mathematical and Quantitative Methods - - Game Theory and Bargaining Theory - - - Bargaining Theory; Matching Theory
    • C91 - Mathematical and Quantitative Methods - - Design of Experiments - - - Laboratory, Individual Behavior
    • D72 - Microeconomics - - Analysis of Collective Decision-Making - - - Political Processes: Rent-seeking, Lobbying, Elections, Legislatures, and Voting Behavior
    • D74 - Microeconomics - - Analysis of Collective Decision-Making - - - Conflict; Conflict Resolution; Alliances; Revolutions

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