The Breakdown of International Negotiations: Social Conflicts, Audience Costs, and Reputation in Two-Level Games

In: International Negotiation
Holger Janusch School of Business and Economics, Chair of International Studies, University of Erlangen-Nürnberg Findelgasse 7–9, Nürnberg, Bavaria 90402 Germany

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This article examines whether the two-level game can theoretically explain negotiation breakdowns without referring to uncertainty alone. For this purpose, social conflicts are integrated in the two-level game. In this light, the classical hypothesis that smaller win-sets increase the risk of a negotiation breakdown can no longer be maintained. Instead, conflict intensity – and thereby the risk of breakdown – correlates with the intersection of the win-sets in the form of an inverted U-curve. It follows that negotiations are most likely to break down when the intersection of the win-sets is perceived as medium-sized, because the bargaining space and thereby the potential of conflict intensity is largest/highest. Furthermore, the insertion of social conflicts into the equation runs counter to the hypothesis that issue linkages facilitate international cooperation. On the contrary, issue linkages increase the risk that goal conflicts, in particular, intensify each other by spreading from one issue to another.

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