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Bargaining Over Power: When Do Rapid Shifts in Power Lead to War?
Unformatted Document Text:  level. Yet, it is worth insisting on the fact that the paper’s main contribution is not simply an efficiency result, but also an analysis of the conditions under which bargaining can fail: war occurs because countries cannot transfer their capabilities, or most plausibly because such transfers imply too high a cost vis-`a-vis third parties. These findings, in turn, open new lines for research. In particular, extending the analysis beyond bilateral negotiations leads to interesting insights into strategic considerations that are too often ignored by existing models: When can power be targeted? When can capabilities be distinguished from benefits? Answering these questions—theoretically as well as empirically—will further our understanding of the causes of conflict. Finally, the model analyzed here might seem unrealistic in one respect: while I modeled a game in which the players can observe each other’s attributtes, there is always at least some level of uncertainty about relative capabilities in the real world. However, there are a number of reasons why the analysis of bargaining in the absence of incomplete information is important: first, abstracting from the real world allows us to disaggregate the various factors at play, and to understand which of them is causing the outcome we observe—in this case the breakdown of bargaining. Most important, the demonstration that rapid changes in power in the dyad are insufficient to explain the breakdown of bargaining is not only an interesting theoretical construct, but also leads us to practical and testable question: why are states sometimes unable, or maybe unwilling to negotiate over power? What explains the variance in their ability to do so? Incomplete information or the inability to observe disarmament could be important explanations, but further theoretical and empirical analyses will be important to further our analysis of bargaining failures in this broad class of bargaining situations. 28

Authors: Chadefaux, Thomas.
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level.
Yet, it is worth insisting on the fact that the paper’s main contribution is not simply
an efficiency result, but also an analysis of the conditions under which bargaining can fail:
war occurs because countries cannot transfer their capabilities, or most plausibly because
such transfers imply too high a cost vis-`a-vis third parties. These findings, in turn, open
new lines for research. In particular, extending the analysis beyond bilateral negotiations
leads to interesting insights into strategic considerations that are too often ignored by
existing models: When can power be targeted? When can capabilities be distinguished
from benefits? Answering these questions—theoretically as well as empirically—will
further our understanding of the causes of conflict.
Finally, the model analyzed here might seem unrealistic in one respect: while I
modeled a game in which the players can observe each other’s attributtes, there is
always at least some level of uncertainty about relative capabilities in the real world.
However, there are a number of reasons why the analysis of bargaining in the absence
of incomplete information is important: first, abstracting from the real world allows us
to disaggregate the various factors at play, and to understand which of them is causing
the outcome we observe—in this case the breakdown of bargaining. Most important,
the demonstration that rapid changes in power in the dyad are insufficient to explain
the breakdown of bargaining is not only an interesting theoretical construct, but also
leads us to practical and testable question: why are states sometimes unable, or maybe
unwilling to negotiate over power? What explains the variance in their ability to do
so? Incomplete information or the inability to observe disarmament could be important
explanations, but further theoretical and empirical analyses will be important to further
our analysis of bargaining failures in this broad class of bargaining situations.
28


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