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A General Theory of Equilibrium Selection in Games


  • John C. Harsanyi

    (University of California, Berkeley)

  • Reinhard Selten

    () (University of Bonn)


The authors, two of the most prominent game theorists of this generation, have devoted a number of years to the development of the theory presented here, and to its economic applications. They propose rational criteria for selecting one particular uniformly perfect equilibrium point as the solution of any noncooperative game. And, because any cooperative game can be remodelled as a noncooperative bargaining game, their theory defines a one-point solution for any cooperative game as well. By providing solutions - based on the same principles of rational behavior - for all classes of games, both cooperative and noncooperative, both those with complete and with incomplete information, Harsanyi and Selten's approach achieves a remarkable degree of theoretical unification for game theory as a whole and provides a deeper insight into the nature of game-theoretic rationality. The book applies this theory to a number of specific game classes, such as unanimity games; bargaining with transaction costs; trade involving one seller and several buyers; two-person bargaining with incomplete information on one side, and on both sides. The last chapter discusses the relationship of the authors' theory to other recently proposed solution concepts, particularly the Kohberg-Mertens stability theory.

Suggested Citation

  • John C. Harsanyi & Reinhard Selten, 1988. "A General Theory of Equilibrium Selection in Games," MIT Press Books, The MIT Press, edition 1, volume 1, number 0262582384, January.
  • Handle: RePEc:mtp:titles:0262582384

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Van Wijnbergen, Sweden, 1986. "On fiscal deficits, the real exchange rate and the world rate of interest," European Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 30(5), pages 1013-1023, October.
    2. Tabellini, Guido & Alesina, Alberto, 1990. "Voting on the Budget Deficit," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 80(1), pages 37-49, March.
    3. Tobin, James, 1969. "A General Equilibrium Approach to Monetary Theory," Journal of Money, Credit and Banking, Blackwell Publishing, vol. 1(1), pages 15-29, February.
    4. Sutherland, Alan, 1997. "Fiscal crises and aggregate demand: can high public debt reverse the effects of fiscal policy?," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 65(2), pages 147-162, August.
    5. Menahem E. Yaari, 1965. "Uncertain Lifetime, Life Insurance, and the Theory of the Consumer," Review of Economic Studies, Oxford University Press, vol. 32(2), pages 137-150.
    6. Robert Summers & Alan Heston, 1991. "The Penn World Table (Mark 5): An Expanded Set of International Comparisons, 1950–1988," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 106(2), pages 327-368.
    7. Uzawa, H, 1969. "Time Preference and the Penrose Effect in a Two-Class Model of Economic Growth," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 77(4), pages 628-652, Part II, .
    8. van Wijnbergen, Sweder, 1987. "Tariffs, Employment and the Current Account: Real Wage Resistance and the Macroeconomics of Protectionism," International Economic Review, Department of Economics, University of Pennsylvania and Osaka University Institute of Social and Economic Research Association, vol. 28(3), pages 691-706, October.
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    More about this item


    game theory; equlibrium selection;

    JEL classification:

    • C71 - Mathematical and Quantitative Methods - - Game Theory and Bargaining Theory - - - Cooperative Games
    • C72 - Mathematical and Quantitative Methods - - Game Theory and Bargaining Theory - - - Noncooperative Games


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