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Brothers in Arms - An Experiment on the Alliance Puzzle

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  • Changxia Ke
  • Kai A. Konrad
  • Florian Morath

Abstract

Our experimental analysis of alliances in conflicts leads to three main findings. First, even in the absence of repeated interaction, direct contact or communication, free-riding among alliance members is far less pronounced than what would be expected from non-cooperative theory. Second, this possible solidarity among 'brothers in arms' when fighting against an outside enemy may rapidly deteriorate or disappear as soon as the outside enemy disappears. Third, when fighting an outside enemy, 'brothers in arms' may already anticipate future internal conflict about dividing the spoils of winning; however, this subsequent internal conflict does not discourage alliance members from expending much effort in the contest against the external enemy.

Suggested Citation

  • Changxia Ke & Kai A. Konrad & Florian Morath, 2011. "Brothers in Arms - An Experiment on the Alliance Puzzle," Working Papers brothers_in_arms, Max Planck Institute for Tax Law and Public Finance.
  • Handle: RePEc:mpi:wpaper:brothers_in_arms
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    Cited by:

    1. Christoph March & Marco Sahm, 2019. "The Perks of Being in the Smaller Team: Incentives in Overlapping Contests," CESifo Working Paper Series 7994, CESifo.
    2. James W. Boudreau & Shane Sanders & Nicholas Shunda, 2019. "The role of noise in alliance formation and collusion in conflicts," Public Choice, Springer, vol. 179(3), pages 249-266, June.
    3. Michael D. König & Dominic Rohner & Mathias Thoenig & Fabrizio Zilibotti, 2016. "The Long-lasting Shadow of the Allied Occupation of Austria on its Spatial Equilibrium," HiCN Working Papers 231, Households in Conflict Network.
    4. Changxia Ke & Kai A. Konrad & Florian Morath, 2015. "Alliances In The Shadow Of Conflict," Economic Inquiry, Western Economic Association International, vol. 53(2), pages 854-871, April.
    5. Bayer, Ralph-Christopher, 2016. "Cooperation and distributive conflict," Games and Economic Behavior, Elsevier, vol. 97(C), pages 88-109.
    6. Emmanuel Dechenaux & Dan Kovenock & Roman Sheremeta, 2015. "A survey of experimental research on contests, all-pay auctions and tournaments," Experimental Economics, Springer;Economic Science Association, vol. 18(4), pages 609-669, December.
    7. Herbst, Luisa & Konrad, Kai A. & Morath, Florian, 2015. "Endogenous group formation in experimental contests," European Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 74(C), pages 163-189.
    8. Sheremeta, Roman, 2018. "Experimental Research on Contests," MPRA Paper 89327, University Library of Munich, Germany.
    9. Roman M. Sheremeta, 2013. "Overbidding And Heterogeneous Behavior In Contest Experiments," Journal of Economic Surveys, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 27(3), pages 491-514, July.
    10. Beekman, Gonne & Cheung, Stephen L. & Levely, Ian, 2017. "The effect of conflict history on cooperation within and between groups: Evidence from a laboratory experiment," Journal of Economic Psychology, Elsevier, vol. 63(C), pages 168-183.
    11. Deck, Cary & Foster, Joshua & Song, Hongwei, 2015. "Defense against an opportunistic challenger: Theory and experiments," European Journal of Operational Research, Elsevier, vol. 242(2), pages 501-513.
    12. James W. Boudreau & Lucas Rentschler & Shane Sanders, 2019. "Stag hunt contests and alliance formation," Public Choice, Springer, vol. 179(3), pages 267-285, June.
    13. Changxia Ke, 2011. "Fight Alone or Together? The Need to Belong," Working Papers fight_alone_or_together, Max Planck Institute for Tax Law and Public Finance.
    14. Herrera, Helios & Reuben, Ernesto & Ting, Michael M., 2017. "Turf wars," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 152(C), pages 143-153.
    15. Roman M. Sheremeta, 2018. "Behavior In Group Contests: A Review Of Experimental Research," Journal of Economic Surveys, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 32(3), pages 683-704, July.
    16. Subhasish M. Chowdhury & Anwesha Mukherjee & Theodore L. Turocy, 2020. "That’s the ticket: explicit lottery randomisation and learning in Tullock contests," Theory and Decision, Springer, vol. 88(3), pages 405-429, April.
    17. Lacomba, Juan A. & Lagos, Francisco & Reuben, Ernesto & van Winden, Frans, 2014. "On the escalation and de-escalation of conflict," Games and Economic Behavior, Elsevier, vol. 86(C), pages 40-57.
    18. Ricardo Nieva, 2019. "Corruption and paradoxes in alliances," Economics of Governance, Springer, vol. 20(1), pages 41-71, March.
    19. Antoine Pietri, 2017. "Les modèles de « rivalité coercitive » dans l’analyse économique des conflits," Revue d'économie politique, Dalloz, vol. 127(3), pages 307-352.
    20. Hubert J. Kiss & Alfonso Rosa-Garcia & Vita Zhukova, 2019. "Coopetition in group contest," CERS-IE WORKING PAPERS 1911, Institute of Economics, Centre for Economic and Regional Studies.
    21. Chao, Hong & Ho, Chun-Yu & Huang, Shaoqing & Qin, Xiangdong & Cong, Jiajia, 2019. "Partners or rivals? An experimental study of a two-stage tournament," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 158(C), pages 288-310.
    22. Timothy Mathews & Shane Sanders, 2019. "Strategic and experimental analyses of conflict and terrorism," Public Choice, Springer, vol. 179(3), pages 169-174, June.
    23. Brouwer, Thijs & Potters, Jan, 2019. "Friends for (almost) a day: Studying breakaways in cycling races," Journal of Economic Psychology, Elsevier, vol. 75(PB).

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    More about this item

    Keywords

    Alliance; conflict; contest; free-riding; hold-up problem; solidarity;
    All these keywords.

    JEL classification:

    • D72 - Microeconomics - - Analysis of Collective Decision-Making - - - Political Processes: Rent-seeking, Lobbying, Elections, Legislatures, and Voting Behavior
    • D74 - Microeconomics - - Analysis of Collective Decision-Making - - - Conflict; Conflict Resolution; Alliances; Revolutions

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