Rent-seeking behaviour of retaliating agents
This paper has examined a rent-seeking game where the players take a more sophisticated approach to evaluating the potential strategies and counter-strategies of their rivals than in the standard Nash case. We have derived the conditions for the existence of symmetric and nonsymmetric equilibria for the game and derived the properties of these equilibria. Three results merit repeating. First, we find that rent dissipation will not, in general, be complete. Second, and in contrast to much of the traditional literature, we find that the socially optimal result of zero rent-seeking is sometimes a feasible equilibrium outcome for our game. Finally, there exist rent-seeking configurations in which the best play of one of the rivals is to withdraw from the game or, alternatively stated, where it is not optimal for a rival to contest the rent by entering the game. In these nonsymmetric cases it would appear that Tullock's conjecture about the value of preemptive moves remains valid. This is true even when the strategies and counter-strategies available to the players are much more complex than in the traditional Nash approach. As a final point we raise the issue of whether or not it is reasonable to suppose that the players in rent-seeking games will take their strategy and counter-strategy sets to be as large as we have assumed in this paper. Players may well make their moves and counter-moves based upon ‘rules of thumb’ or other considerations See, for example, Tullock (1988) for a discussion of the importance of what he refers to as ‘extrinsic’ influences on the play of rent-seeking games. that effectively bound the strategy sets of the players. As well, it may be useful to consider games where players, upon entering the game, commit themselves to a given level of expenditures. Many of these issues are considered in a related paper by the authors. Copyright Kluwer Academic Publishers 1989
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