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When Parity Promotes Peace: Resolving Conflict Between Asymmetric Agents

  • Erik O. Kimbrough

    (Department of Economics, Simon Fraser University)

  • Roman M. Sheremeta

    ()

    (Weatherhead School of Management, Case Western Reserve University and the Economic Science Institute, Chapman University)

  • Timothy W. Shields

    (Argyros School of Business and Economics, Chapman University)

Due to the high costs of conflict both in theory and practice, we examine and experimentally test the conditions under which conflict between asymmetric agents can be resolved. We model conflict as a two-agent rent-seeking contest for an indivisible prize. Before conflict arises, both agents may agree to allocate the prize by fair coin flip to avoid the costs of conflict. The model predicts that “parity promotes peace”: in the pure-strategy equilibrium, agents with relatively symmetric conflict capabilities agree to resolve the conflict by using a random device; however, with sufficiently asymmetric capabilities, conflicts are unavoidable because the stronger agent prefers to fight. The results of the experiment confirm that the availability of the random device partially eliminates conflicts when agents are relatively symmetric; however, the device also reduces conflict between substantially asymmetric agents.

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Paper provided by Chapman University, Economic Science Institute in its series Working Papers with number 13-33.

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Length: 35 pages
Date of creation: 2013
Date of revision:
Handle: RePEc:chu:wpaper:13-33
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