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Rational choice, Round Robin, and rebellion: An institutional solution to the problems of revolution

  • Leeson, Peter T.

Two collective action problems plague successful revolution. On the one hand, would-be revolutionaries confront a "participation problem," whereby no rationally self-interested individual has an incentive to participate in rebellion. On the other hand, individuals face a "first-mover problem" whereby no rationally self-interested individual has an incentive to lead rebellion. This paper argues that 18th-century merchant sailors who confronted these problems devised a novel institution to facilitate maritime revolution and assist them in overthrowing abusive captains. This institution was called a "Round Robin." Round Robins helped overcome both the participation and first-mover problems by aligning the interests of individual sailors desiring mutiny and restructuring the payoffs of leading versus following maritime rebellion.

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Article provided by Elsevier in its journal Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization.

Volume (Year): 73 (2010)
Issue (Month): 3 (March)
Pages: 297-307

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Handle: RePEc:eee:jeborg:v:73:y:2010:i:3:p:297-307
Contact details of provider: Web page: http://www.elsevier.com/locate/jebo

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  1. Peter T. Leeson, 2007. "An-arrgh-chy: The Law and Economics of Pirate Organization," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 115(6), pages 1049-1094, December.
  2. Peter Leeson, 2009. "The calculus of piratical consent: the myth of the myth of social contract," Public Choice, Springer, vol. 139(3), pages 443-459, June.
  3. Gifford, Adam Jr., 1993. "The economic organization of 17th-through mid 19th-century whaling and shipping," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 20(2), pages 137-150, February.
  4. Peter T. Leeson, 2008. "Social Distance and Self-Enforcing Exchange," The Journal of Legal Studies, University of Chicago Press, vol. 37(1), pages 161-188, 01.
  5. Peter T. Leeson, 2007. "Trading with Bandits," Journal of Law and Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 50, pages 303-321.
  6. J. Gunning, 1972. "An economic approach to riot analysis," Public Choice, Springer, vol. 13(1), pages 31-46, September.
  7. Leeson, Peter T., 2005. "Self-enforcing arrangements in African political economy," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 57(2), pages 241-244, June.
  8. Leeson, Peter T. & Boettke, Peter J., 2009. "Two-tiered entrepreneurship and economic development," International Review of Law and Economics, Elsevier, vol. 29(3), pages 252-259, September.
  9. John Geanakoplos, 1992. "Common Knowledge," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 6(4), pages 53-82, Fall.
  10. Kuran, Timur, 1991. "The East European Revolution of 1989: Is It Surprising That We Were Surprised?," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 81(2), pages 121-25, May.
  11. Timur Kuran, 1989. "Sparks and prairie fires: A theory of unanticipated political revolution," Public Choice, Springer, vol. 61(1), pages 41-74, April.
  12. Peter Leeson, 2007. "Efficient anarchy," Public Choice, Springer, vol. 130(1), pages 41-53, January.
  13. Peter T. Leeson, 2009. "The Laws of Lawlessness," The Journal of Legal Studies, University of Chicago Press, vol. 38(2), pages 471-503, 06.
  14. Chalmers, James A & Shelton, Robert B, 1975. "An Economic Analysis of Riot Participation," Economic Inquiry, Western Economic Association International, vol. 13(3), pages 322-36, September.
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