Political Theory

A General Framework for International Conflict under Incomplete Information

Mark Dekker Utrecht University
Dawid Walentek University of Amsterdam
Jonas Haslbeck University of Amsterdam
Joris Broere Utrecht University
The crisis bargaining literature identifies the incentives and constraints that states face in an international conflict. It shows that the size of and the relation between economic cost resulting from engaging in a coercion and domestic audience cost resulting from issuing empty threats determines states’ prospects to succeed at the threat stage and engage in coercion. This article further develops the crisis bargaining framework by providing a specification of uncertainty about the economic and domestic audience cost. Specifically, we introduce uncertainty by modelling economic and domestic audience costs as probability distributions, instead of fixed values as in earlier studies. We develop our argument with the use of a game theory model, expanding the current crisis bargaining framework. In contrast to earlier work, we find that an increase in uncertainty decreases the effectiveness of threats of coercion and decreases the probability of engagement in coercion.