Involuntary defection in two-level games

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Ratification failures are prevalent in international relations, but due to the assumption of unitary actors in international relations theory, theoretical analysis has been underdeveloped. In formalizing Putnam's metaphor of two-level games, this article shows that incomplete information about the preferences of domestic actors is crucial for understanding ratification failures. Furthermore, institutional mechanisms affect bargaining outcomes through their impact on information revelation. In particular, it is found that two-sided constraints lead to relatively equitable bargaining outcomes and that renegotiation and pre-negotiation poll-taking can induce strategic voting by domestic constituents, thereby exacerbating domestic constraints.

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I would like to thank the seminar participants at Rochester and Rutgers, Lisa Martin, Helen Milner, Bob Putnam and the anonymous referee for useful comments. All the remaining errors are mine alone.

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Iida, K. Involuntary defection in two-level games. Public Choice 89, 283–303 (1996).

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  • Theoretical Analysis
  • Public Finance
  • Incomplete Information
  • Unitary Actor
  • International Relation