Mark Fey is Associate Professor of Political Science, 109E Harkness Hall, University of Rochester, Rochester, NY 14627 (firstname.lastname@example.org). Kristopher W. Ramsay is Assistant Professor of Politics, 033 Corwin Hall, Princeton University, Princeton, NJ 08544 (email@example.com).
Uncertainty and Incentives in Crisis Bargaining: Game-Free Analysis of International Conflict
Article first published online: 29 OCT 2010
©2010, Midwest Political Science Association
American Journal of Political Science
Volume 55, Issue 1, pages 149–169, January 2011
How to Cite
Fey, M. and Ramsay, K. W. (2011), Uncertainty and Incentives in Crisis Bargaining: Game-Free Analysis of International Conflict. American Journal of Political Science, 55: 149–169. doi: 10.1111/j.1540-5907.2010.00486.x
We have benefited from comments received at the University of Rochester's Peter D. Watson Center, Princeton's International Relations Colloquium, the UCSD IR Seminar, and from participants at various professional conferences. We particularly thank Scott Ashworth, Dan Bernhardt, Josh Clinton, Tom Christensen, John Duggan, Jay Lyall, Adam Meirowitz, Andy Moravcsik, Tom Palfrey, Tom Romer, Curt Signorino, Randy Stone, and Johannes Urpelainen. We would also like to thank three anonymous reviewers for helpful comments. Any remaining errors are our own.
- Issue published online: 7 JAN 2011
- Article first published online: 29 OCT 2010
We study two different varieties of uncertainty that countries can face in international crises and establish general results about the relationship between these sources of uncertainty and the possibility of peaceful resolution of conflict. Among our results, we show that under some weak conditions, there is no equilibrium of any crisis bargaining game that has voluntary agreements and zero probability of costly war. We also show that while uncertainty about the other side's cost of war may be relatively benign in peace negotiations, uncertainty about the other side's strength in war makes it much more difficult to guarantee peaceful outcomes. Along the way, we are able to assess the degree to which particular modeling assumptions found in the existing literature drive the well-known relationship between uncertainty, the incentive to misrepresent, and costly war. We find that while the theoretical connection between war and uncertainty is quite robust to relaxing many modeling assumptions, whether uncertainty is about costs or the probability of victory remains important.