Multiple Audiences and Reputation Building in International Conflicts
Reputational theory of conflict behavior dates back to Schellingâ€™s seminal work on bargaining and continues to find both its advocates and critics to date. The authors do not take sides in this debate about the relevance of reputation for bargaining behavior but rather take a modified approach to reputations for resolve and probe some aspects that were largely underexplored in past research. The authors develop the argument that, if facing multiple strategic rivals and having failed in past disputes, a state has an incentive to invest in its reputation for resolute behavior by initiating and escalating conflicts. Their focus is then on both general and immediate deterrence, and while it was standard to tie reputation to a deterrerâ€™s past, the authors direct the attention to the challengerâ€™s reputation as a potential motivator for its conflictual behavior. This new focus is validated, and the related expectations supported, in the findings from their empirical analysis of strategic rivalries from 1816 to 1999.
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