Alliances and Incomplete Contracting: Institutional Design, Audience Costs, and Compliance – Dan Reiter, Emory University

Join us for a colloquium by Dr. Dan Reiter, where he will be presenting on his paper “Alliances and Incomplete Contracting: Institutional Design Audience Costs, and Compliance.” This colloquium is presented by the Global Security Research Hub.

Abstract: This paper argues for the importance of incomplete contracting in the design of international institutions in general, and for alliances in particular. Agreements are incomplete when they fail to describe thoroughly compliance expectations under all possible conditions. When an agreement is incomplete, it is easier for leaders to evade the audience costs of non-compliance, because they can more persuasively argue to audiences that their chosen behavior is not necessarily non-compliant. The paper finds empirical support for the theory. Analysis of observational data demonstrates that alliance signatories especially sensitive to the audience costs of non-compliance are more likely to demand their alliances be incomplete. A survey experiment shows that the domestic political audience costs of failing to intervene for an ally are war are lower if the alliance treaty is incomplete. Finally, analysis of observational data demonstrates that incomplete alliances experience lower rates of compliance than other kinds of alliances.

Dan Reiter is the Samuel Candler Dobbs Professor of Political Science at Emory University. His research examines the causes and outcomes of international and internal conflicts, the connections between domestic and international politics, international alliances, decision-making, and US foreign policy. He is the author of How Wars End, which won the 2010 Conflict Processes Best Book Award from the American Political Science Association. His articles have appeared in the American Political Science Review, the Journal of Politics, the British Journal of Political Science, International Organization and many other outlets.  He was the recipient of the 2002 Karl Deutsch Award, given by the International Studies Association.  He received his PhD in political science from the University of Michigan.

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Melissa Bator
Melissa Bator
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