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The use of conflict as a bargaining tool against unsophisticated opponents

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Abstract

In this paper we explore the role of conflict as an informational device by means of a simple bargaining model with one-sided incomplete information: Limited conflicts reveal information about the outcome of the all-out conflict (that ends the game) because the outcomes of both types of confrontations are driven by the relative strength of the parties. We limit the analysis to the case where the uninformed party can learn the information transmitted in the battlefield but not the one conveyed by offers. The game becomes then an optimal stopping problem where the informed party has to decide at each period whether to stop, by reaching an agreement or by invoking total conflict, or to keep fighting. We show that conflict is a double-edge sword: It may paradoxically open the door to agreement when the uniformed party is too optimistic. But confrontation also occurs when agreement is possible but the informed agent has incentives to improve her bargaining position by fighting.

Suggested Citation

  • Santiago Sanchez-Pages, 2003. "The use of conflict as a bargaining tool against unsophisticated opponents," ESE Discussion Papers 99, Edinburgh School of Economics, University of Edinburgh.
  • Handle: RePEc:edn:esedps:99
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. Powell, Robert, 1996. "Bargaining in the Shadow of Power," Games and Economic Behavior, Elsevier, vol. 15(2), pages 255-289, August.
    2. Ausubel, Lawrence M. & Cramton, Peter & Deneckere, Raymond J., 2002. "Bargaining with incomplete information," Handbook of Game Theory with Economic Applications,in: R.J. Aumann & S. Hart (ed.), Handbook of Game Theory with Economic Applications, edition 1, volume 3, chapter 50, pages 1897-1945 Elsevier.
    3. Jovanovic, Boyan, 1979. "Job Matching and the Theory of Turnover," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 87(5), pages 972-990, October.
    4. Joan Esteban & József Sákovics, 2002. "Endogenous bargaining power," Economics Working Papers 644, Department of Economics and Business, Universitat Pompeu Fabra.
    5. Nash, John, 1950. "The Bargaining Problem," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 18(2), pages 155-162, April.
    6. Darren Filson & Suzanne Werner, "undated". "A Bargaining Model of War and Peace: Anticipating the Onset, Duration, and Outcome of War," Claremont Colleges Working Papers 2001-02, Claremont Colleges.
    7. Anbarci, Nejat & Skaperdas, Stergios & Syropoulos, Constantinos, 2002. "Comparing Bargaining Solutions in the Shadow of Conflict: How Norms against Threats Can Have Real Effects," Journal of Economic Theory, Elsevier, vol. 106(1), pages 1-16, September.
    8. repec:cup:apsrev:v:79:y:1985:i:04:p:943-957_23 is not listed on IDEAS
    9. Garfinkel, M.R. & Skaperdas, S., 2000. "Conflict without Misperceptions or Incomplete Information: how the Future Matters," Papers 99-00-11, California Irvine - School of Social Sciences.
    10. Joel Sobel & Ichiro Takahashi, 1983. "A Multistage Model of Bargaining," Review of Economic Studies, Oxford University Press, vol. 50(3), pages 411-426.
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    Cited by:

    1. Santiago Sanchez-Pages, 2009. "Bargaining and Conflict with Incomplete Information," ESE Discussion Papers 191, Edinburgh School of Economics, University of Edinburgh.
    2. Stergios Skaperdas, 2006. "Bargaining Versus Fighting," Defence and Peace Economics, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 17(6), pages 657-676.
    3. Heifetz, Aviad & Segev, Ella, 2005. "Escalation and delay in protracted international conflicts," Mathematical Social Sciences, Elsevier, vol. 49(1), pages 17-37, January.

    More about this item

    Keywords

    relative strength; absolute conflict; battles; unsophisticated opponent; optimal stopping;

    JEL classification:

    • C78 - Mathematical and Quantitative Methods - - Game Theory and Bargaining Theory - - - Bargaining Theory; Matching Theory
    • D74 - Microeconomics - - Analysis of Collective Decision-Making - - - Conflict; Conflict Resolution; Alliances; Revolutions
    • J52 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Labor-Management Relations, Trade Unions, and Collective Bargaining - - - Dispute Resolution: Strikes, Arbitration, and Mediation
    • N4 - Economic History - - Government, War, Law, International Relations, and Regulation

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