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Dictators and Their Viziers: Agency Problems in Dictatorships

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  • Georgy Egorov
  • Konstantin Sonin

Abstract

The possibility of treason by a close associate has been a nightmare of most dictators throughout history. Better informed viziers are also better able to discriminate among potential plotters, and this makes them more risky subordinates for the dictator. To avoid this, dictators, especially which are weak and vulnerable, sacri.ce the competence of their agents, hiring mediocre but loyal subordinates. One reason why democracies generally witness more talented people in the government is the dictator.s inability to commit to the optimal (less than the capital) punishment for those who unsuccessfully plotted to remove him from power. Furthermore, any use of incentive schemes by a dictator is limited by the fact that rewards are conditional on dictator.s own willingness to keep his promises, while punishments are conditional on dictator.s own survival. We model a principalagent game between a dictator and his (probably, few) viziers both in static and dynamic perspectives. The dynamic model allows us to focus on the succession problem the insecure dictators face.

Suggested Citation

  • Georgy Egorov & Konstantin Sonin, 2005. "Dictators and Their Viziers: Agency Problems in Dictatorships," William Davidson Institute Working Papers Series wp735, William Davidson Institute at the University of Michigan.
  • Handle: RePEc:wdi:papers:2005-735
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    More about this item

    Keywords

    dictatorship; formal political theory; principal-agent theory; institutions;
    All these keywords.

    JEL classification:

    • D72 - Microeconomics - - Analysis of Collective Decision-Making - - - Political Processes: Rent-seeking, Lobbying, Elections, Legislatures, and Voting Behavior
    • P16 - Economic Systems - - Capitalist Systems - - - Political Economy of Capitalism

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