Bragg, Belinda Lesley (2006-08). When will states talk? Predicting the initiation of conflict management in interstate crises. Doctoral Dissertation. Thesis uri icon

abstract

  • This research addresses the question of why some crises between states are resolved through negotiated agreements while others result in continued conflict or escalate to war. The model deviates from previous approaches to the study of conflict management in four key ways: 1) management is treated as a conflict strategy rather than an outcome; 2) costs, rather than calculation of the relative benefits of conflict over management, motivate the initiation of conflict management; 3) the conceptualization of costs is broadened to incorporate subjective factors; and 4) issue salience is proposed to determine the threshold at which an actor??????s preference for conflict over management changes. The central question this conceptualization raises, therefore, is what factors influence actors?????? strategy choices during a crisis. The theory proposes that, when it comes to the initiation of conflict management, it is costs that dominate the decision process. Or as Jackman (1993) so succinctly puts it; ??????for those confronted with a very restricted range of available alternatives extending from horrendous to merely awful, minimizing pain is the same as maximizing utility??????. Both experimental and statistical methodologies are used to test the hypotheses derived from the theory. Original experimental data were collected from experiments run on undergraduate students at Texas A&M University. For the statistical analysis a data set of interstate crises and negotiation behavior was compiled using data from the SHERFACS and International Crisis Behavior data sets and data collected specifically for this research. This multi-method approach was chosen because of the nature of the questions being examined and in order to minimize the limitations of the individual methodologies. The experimental tests demonstrate that the expectations of the model are supported in the controlled environment of the experiment. The results from the empirical analysis were, within the restrictions of the data, consistent with both theoretical expectations and the experimental results.
  • This research addresses the question of why some crises between states are resolved
    through negotiated agreements while others result in continued conflict or escalate to war.
    The model deviates from previous approaches to the study of conflict management in four
    key ways: 1) management is treated as a conflict strategy rather than an outcome; 2) costs,
    rather than calculation of the relative benefits of conflict over management, motivate the
    initiation of conflict management; 3) the conceptualization of costs is broadened to
    incorporate subjective factors; and 4) issue salience is proposed to determine the threshold
    at which an actor??????s preference for conflict over management changes.
    The central question this conceptualization raises, therefore, is what factors
    influence actors?????? strategy choices during a crisis. The theory proposes that, when it comes to
    the initiation of conflict management, it is costs that dominate the decision process. Or as
    Jackman (1993) so succinctly puts it; ??????for those confronted with a very restricted range of
    available alternatives extending from horrendous to merely awful, minimizing pain is the
    same as maximizing utility??????.
    Both experimental and statistical methodologies are used to test the hypotheses
    derived from the theory. Original experimental data were collected from experiments run on undergraduate students at Texas A&M University. For the statistical analysis a data set of
    interstate crises and negotiation behavior was compiled using data from the SHERFACS
    and International Crisis Behavior data sets and data collected specifically for this research. This
    multi-method approach was chosen because of the nature of the questions being examined
    and in order to minimize the limitations of the individual methodologies. The experimental
    tests demonstrate that the expectations of the model are supported in the controlled
    environment of the experiment. The results from the empirical analysis were, within the
    restrictions of the data, consistent with both theoretical expectations and the experimental
    results.

publication date

  • August 2006