Authors’ note: The name ordering is reverse alphabetical, and does not denote unequal contributions. We thank the anonymous reviewers for their valuable comments. We gratefully acknowledge the support of the National Science Foundation (SES-0518945 and SES-0518185). Because of space constraints, the proofs to all of the propositions in this article are provided in a technical supplement, which is available at the authors’ Web sites at http://www-polisci.tamu.edu/faculty/tarar and http://www.duke.edu/~bl38, as well the ISQ repositories at http://www.isanet.org/data_archive/, and the Dataverse Network: http://dvn.iq.harvard.edu/dvn/.
Public Commitment in Crisis Bargaining
Article first published online: 8 SEP 2009
© 2009 International Studies Association
International Studies Quarterly
Volume 53, Issue 3, pages 817–839, September 2009
How to Cite
Tarar, A. and Leventoğlu, B. (2009), Public Commitment in Crisis Bargaining. International Studies Quarterly, 53: 817–839. doi: 10.1111/j.1468-2478.2009.00557.x
- Issue published online: 8 SEP 2009
- Article first published online: 8 SEP 2009
The “audience cost” literature argues that highly-resolved leaders can use public threats to credibly signal their resolve in incomplete-information crisis bargaining, thereby overcoming informational asymmetries that lead to war. If democracies are better able to generate audience costs, then audience costs help explain the democratic peace. We use a game-theoretic model to show how public commitments can be used coercively as a source of bargaining leverage, even in a complete-information setting in which they have no signaling role. When both sides use public commitments for bargaining leverage, war becomes an equilibrium outcome. The results provide a rationale for secret negotiations as well as hypotheses about when leaders will claim that the disputed good is indivisible, recognized as a rationalist explanation for war. Claims of indivisibility may just be bargaining tactics to get the other side to make big concessions, and compromise is still possible in equilibrium.