Article

Commitment Problems and Shifting Poweras a Cause of Conflict

Robert Powell

in The Oxford Handbook of the Economics of Peace and Conflict

Published in print April 2012 | ISBN: 9780195392777
Published online November 2012 | | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/oxfordhb/9780195392777.013.0003

Series: Oxford Handbooks

 Commitment Problems and Shifting Poweras a Cause of Conflict

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This article considers another cause of conflict, one that has received much less attention than informational problem: commitment problems. Such problems essentially derive from the inability of parties to write binding long-term contracts on arming or anything else. Commitment problems can lead to conflict primarily because negotiated outcomes and conflict often imply different future strengths for the adversaries. Added “benefits” of war can induce adversaries to fight instead of negotiate. The discussion looks on cases in which commitment problems come about as power shifts against one of the adversaries in favor of the other over time. The side that is expected to lose power might then decide to fight, rather than negotiate, as a way of forestalling its decline. The article also discusses how similar commitment problems extend to cases of domestic politics.

Keywords: commitment problems; domestic politics; arming contracts; war benefits

Article.  7767 words. 

Subjects: Economics ; Microeconomics ; Econometrics and Mathematical Economics

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