Conflict as a Part of the Bargaining Process: Theory and Empirical Evidence
This paper explores the role of conflict as a bargaining tool. It first presents a simple bargaining model with one-sided incomplete information. Parties can choose the scope of the confrontation they may want to engage in: A limited conflict that only introduces delay, or an absolute conflict that terminates the game. The outcomes of both types of confrontation are driven by the relative strength of the parties that is only known to one of them. Therefore, the non-final conflict conveys information about the eventual outcome of the absolute one. In this framework, it is shown that confrontation has a double-edged effect: It may paradoxically open the door to agreement when the uninformed party is so optimistic that no agreement is feasible. But it can also create inefficiency when agreement is possible but the informed agent has an incentive to improve her bargaining position by fighting. The second part of the paper performs a duration analysis on a sample of colonial and imperial wars fought between 1817 and 1988. The results offer evidence illustrating the use of conflict in negotiations.
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