International Review of Economics

, Volume 55, Issue 1–2, pp 91–111 | Cite as

Reciprocity in the shadow of threat

  • Raul CarusoEmail author


This paper considers a partial equilibrium model of conflict where two agents differently evaluate a contested stake. Differently from common contest models, agents have the option of choosing a second instrument to affect the outcome of the conflict. The second instrument is assumed to capture positive investments in ‘conflict management’—labeled as ‘talks’. The focus is on the asymmetry in the evaluation of the stake: whenever the asymmetry in the evaluation of the stake is large there is no room for cooperation and a conflict trap emerges; whenever the degree of asymmetry falls within a critical interval, cooperation seems to emerge only in the presence of a unilateral concession; as the evaluations of the stake converge, only reciprocal concessions can sustain cooperation. Finally the concept of entropy is applied to measure conflict and conflict management.


Conflict Contest Conflict management Concessions Reciprocity Asymmetry in evaluation Statistical entropy Cooperation Integrative systems ‘Guns’ and ‘talks’ 

JEL Classification

D7 D74 D61 D64 F59 H56 



This paper has been presented at the conference, Reciprocity, Theories and Facts, February 22–24, Verbania and in a seminar held at the University of Pisa where I benefited from illuminating comments. I also warmly thank Aurelie Bonein, Luigi Campiglio, Vito Moramarco, Maurizio Motolese, Carsten K. Nielsen, Johan Moyersoen, Nicola Giocoli and Davide Tondani.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 2007

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Institute of Economic PolicyUniversità Cattolica del Sacro CuoreMilanItaly

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