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Threats without Binding Commitment

Author

Listed:
  • Steven Shavell
  • Kathryn Spier

Abstract

This paper explores the power of threats in the absence of binding commitment. The threatener cannot commit to carrying out the threat if the victim refuses payment, and cannot commit to not carrying out the threat if payment is made. If exercising the threat is costly to the threatener, then the threat cannot succeed in extracting money from the victim. If exercising the threat would benefit the threatener, however, then the threat's success depends upon whether the threat may be repeated. In the equilibrium of a finite-period game, the threat is carried out and the victim makes no payments. In an infinite-horizon game, however, it is an equilibrium for the victim to make a stream of payments over time. The expectation of future payments keeps the threatener from exercising the threat.

Suggested Citation

  • Steven Shavell & Kathryn Spier, 1996. "Threats without Binding Commitment," NBER Working Papers 5461, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  • Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:5461 Note: LE
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. Klein, Daniel B. & O'Flaherty, Brendan, 1993. "A game-theoretic rendering of promises and threats," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 21(3), pages 295-314, August.
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    Cited by:

    1. Konstantin Sonin, 2008. "A Theory of Brinkmanship, Conflicts, and Commitments," Journal of Law, Economics, and Organization, Oxford University Press, vol. 24(1), pages 163-183, May.
    2. Vafai, Kouroche, 2002. "Preventing abuse of authority in hierarchies," International Journal of Industrial Organization, Elsevier, vol. 20(8), pages 1143-1166, October.
    3. Farmer, Amy & Pecorino, Paul, 1998. "A reputation for being a nuisance: frivolous lawsuits and fee shifting in a repeated play game," International Review of Law and Economics, Elsevier, vol. 18(2), pages 147-157, June.
    4. Gomez, Fernando & Ganuza, Juan-Jose, 2002. "Civil and criminal sanctions against blackmail: an economic analysis," International Review of Law and Economics, Elsevier, vol. 21(4), pages 475-498, May.
    5. Michele Moretto & Paola Valbonesi, 2004. "Opting-out in profit-sharing regulation," Industrial Organization 0403001, EconWPA.

    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • K42 - Law and Economics - - Legal Procedure, the Legal System, and Illegal Behavior - - - Illegal Behavior and the Enforcement of Law
    • C70 - Mathematical and Quantitative Methods - - Game Theory and Bargaining Theory - - - General

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