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The Macrotechnology of Conflict

Jack Hirshleifer

Journal of Conflict Resolution, 2000, vol. 44, issue 6, 773-792

Abstract: Decision makers must balance between two classes of economic activities: production and conflict. Analogous to the familiar technology of production and exchange is the technology of conflict and struggle, applicable not only to military combat but also in domains such as redistributive politics, strikes and lockouts, litigation, and crime. The conflict success function (CSF) takes as inputs the fighting efforts on the two sides and generates as outputs the respective degrees of success achieved. A crucial determinant of the outcome is the decisiveness parameter, which scales the degree to which force preponderance translates into differential success. Because success feeds on success, in the long run a hegemonic outcome is likely unless the decisiveness parameter is relatively low. The CSF can be adjusted to distinguish between offense and defense, allow for geography and organization, or even display how intangible considerations such as truth or morality can promote success.

Date: 2000
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