Leadership

Conflict And Leadership: When Is There A Hawkish Drift In Politics?

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Executive Summary

The authors analyze an agency model of political competition to examine whether conflict encourages hawkish behavior, and if such behavior can itself aggravate conflict. They consider situations of conflict between a state and an insurgent group, such as conflict over a piece of land. Negotiations are carried out on behalf of the state by a democratically elected leader whose ability and ideology are imperfectly observed by the electorate. A more capable leader can take a hardline position in the negotiations (i.e. cede less land to the insurgents) at a lower expected cost (modeled as the cost of continued insurgency) than a less capable one. Similarly, an ideologically hawkish leader enjoys greater intrinsic utility from retaining land than a less hawkish leader.

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