The impact of leadership turnover and domestic institutions on international cooperation

Fiona McGillivray, Alastair Smith

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


    In the context of a noisy, continuous-choice prisoner's dilemma, the authors examine how leadership turnover and domestic institutions affect the depth and reliability of cooperative agreement that can be enforced between states through the use of leader-specific punishment strategies. If foreign nations target punishments against leaders observed to cheat on cooperative arrangements (i.e., they refuse any future cooperation as long as the responsible incumbent remains in office), then citizens remove leaders caught cheating, providing the cost of doing so is less than the value of the cooperation foregone. For leaders who are easily replaced, being caught cheating cost them their job. Since cheating jeopardizes their tenure, such leaders can credibly commit to deeper and more reliable cooperation. The authors derive hypotheses about the patterns of cooperation and leadership turnover predicted under different institutional arrangements.

    Original languageEnglish (US)
    Pages (from-to)639-660
    Number of pages22
    JournalJournal of Conflict Resolution
    Issue number5
    StatePublished - Oct 2005


    • Cooperation
    • International cooperation
    • Leadership survival
    • Prisoner's dilemma

    ASJC Scopus subject areas

    • General Business, Management and Accounting
    • Sociology and Political Science
    • Political Science and International Relations


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