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On the Production of Victory: Empirical Determinants of Battlefield Success in Modern War

Author

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  • Rotte, Ralph

    () (RWTH Aachen University)

  • Schmidt, Christoph M.

    () (RWI)

Abstract

Using a data set of historical battles from 1600 to 1973, this paper analyzes the empirical determinants of tactical success in modern war. Based on a reduced form approach we consider key elements of military theory as factors in the production of combat success, formalized in a military production function. The paper focuses on the relationship of material and non-material factors to battlefield success, and especially on the role of superior force strengths. Contrary to the emphasis on technology which can be found in the recent literature, our estimation results indicate that numerical superiority has retained its crucial role for battlefield performance throughout history. In general, human elements of warfare, like leadership, morale and surprise, have continued to be important determinants of battle outcome despite technological progress in weapons.

Suggested Citation

  • Rotte, Ralph & Schmidt, Christoph M., 2002. "On the Production of Victory: Empirical Determinants of Battlefield Success in Modern War," IZA Discussion Papers 491, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
  • Handle: RePEc:iza:izadps:dp491
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. Dan Reiter & Allan C. Stam III, 1998. "Democracy and Battlefield Military Effectiveness," Journal of Conflict Resolution, Peace Science Society (International), vol. 42(3), pages 259-277, June.
    2. Amemiya, Takeshi, 1981. "Qualitative Response Models: A Survey," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 19(4), pages 1483-1536, December.
    3. Veall, Michael R & Zimmermann, Klaus F, 1996. " Pseudo-R-[superscript 2] Measures for Some Common Limited Dependent Variable Models," Journal of Economic Surveys, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 10(3), pages 241-259, September.
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    Cited by:

    1. Anderton,Charles H. & Carter,John R., 2009. "Principles of Conflict Economics," Cambridge Books, Cambridge University Press, number 9780521698658, March.
    2. Jia, Hao & Skaperdas, Stergios & Vaidya, Samarth, 2013. "Contest functions: Theoretical foundations and issues in estimation," International Journal of Industrial Organization, Elsevier, vol. 31(3), pages 211-222.
    3. Helmut Bester & Kai A. Konrad, 2005. "Easy Targets and the Timing of Conflict," Journal of Theoretical Politics, , vol. 17(2), pages 199-215, April.
    4. Hao Jia & Stergios Skaperdas, 2011. "Technologies of Conflict," Working Papers 101111, University of California-Irvine, Department of Economics.
    5. J. Paul Dunne & María D.C. García-Alonso & Paul Levine & Ron P. Smith, 2006. "Managing asymmetric conflict," Oxford Economic Papers, Oxford University Press, vol. 58(2), pages 183-208, April.
    6. Smith, Adam C. & Houser, Daniel & Leeson, Peter T. & Ostad, Ramin, 2014. "The costs of conflict," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 97(C), pages 61-71.
    7. Sohn, Kitae, 2014. "The human capital of black soldiers during the American Civil War," Economics Letters, Elsevier, vol. 122(1), pages 40-43.
    8. repec:got:cegedp:21 is not listed on IDEAS
    9. Thomas Gries & Claus-Jochen Haake, 2016. "An Economic Theory of 'Destabilization War'," Working Papers CIE 95, Paderborn University, CIE Center for International Economics.
    10. Christopher K. Butler & Scott Gates, 2010. "The Technology of Terror: Accounting for the Strategic Use of Terrorism," Economics of Security Working Paper Series 30, DIW Berlin, German Institute for Economic Research.
    11. Gries, Thomas & Haake, Claus-Jochen, 2016. "An Economic Theory of 'Destabilization War' '- Compromise for Peace versus Conventional, Guerilla, or Terrorist Warfare," Annual Conference 2016 (Augsburg): Demographic Change 145617, Verein für Socialpolitik / German Economic Association.

    More about this item

    Keywords

    battlefield success; numerical superiority; leadership; technical progress; military production function; military technology;

    JEL classification:

    • C25 - Mathematical and Quantitative Methods - - Single Equation Models; Single Variables - - - Discrete Regression and Qualitative Choice Models; Discrete Regressors; Proportions; Probabilities
    • D29 - Microeconomics - - Production and Organizations - - - Other
    • H56 - Public Economics - - National Government Expenditures and Related Policies - - - National Security and War
    • N40 - Economic History - - Government, War, Law, International Relations, and Regulation - - - General, International, or Comparative
    • O39 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Innovation; Research and Development; Technological Change; Intellectual Property Rights - - - Other

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