## Friday, March 7, 2014

### Classroom Activity: Institutions as Epiphenomena and Screening Mechanisms

This activity comes after students are to have listened to a lecture (slides) on how international institutions promote cooperation.

## Wednesday, March 5, 2014

### If Violence Worked, Would We Know It?

We've all heard the old cliche "violence never solved anything." And some scholars claim to offer evidence in support of more or less that exact claim, having found that non-violent resistance campaigns result in regime concessions more often than do violent insurgencies, or that governments which use force against their citizens are likely to see greater opposition to their rule.

In this post, I seek to convince you that these are exactly the patterns we'd expect even if violence worked—that our old friend "correlation does not imply causation" pokes us on the shoulder when we go and tell aggrieved groups that they'd not be only making the unethical choice, but a self-defeating one, if they resort to violence, or claim that Yanukovych would still be in office if he hadn't ordered security personnel to fire on protesters

It may or may not be justifiable to say such things all the same—I'm aware that some think there's nothing wrong with getting real world actors to do the right thing for the wrong reason—but I think we need to be aware of of just how difficult it would be to establish these conclusions with any sort of certainty. To be clear, I'm not claiming to know that violence typically works, even under conditions where correlational evidence appears to suggest that it does not. I'm just saying that I don't really believe those who claim to know that it doesn't$$^1$$, and I'd personally be quite reluctant to tell people who are being oppressed that it would be a mistake to take up arms (though I obviously can't say I have any great qualms with telling dictators that no good can come from firing on protesters.)

Below the fold.

## Friday, February 28, 2014

### Classroom Activity: Trust and Exploitation

This sixth activity comes after students are to have listened to a lecture (slides) about trust and exploitation (see also this post).

## Wednesday, February 26, 2014

### Trust, Exploitation, and Trade

Two common explanations for why cooperation might not occur even when it would be better for all parties than the status quo are coordination and collaboration problems.$$^1$$ But, as I'll prove in this post, the mere fear of a collaboration problem can also prevent cooperation even if one does not exist.$$^2$$

The theoretical model I use to demonstrate this also yields a few interesting observable implications. Towards the end of the post, I'll present empirical evidence in support of them. They are:

1. Higher levels of trust do not always promote cooperation.

2. Trust has a greater effect when the stakes are low.

3. Cooperation is more likely to occur when the consequences of misplaced trust are modest.

Below the fold.

## Monday, February 24, 2014

### Classroom Activity: Coordination and Collaboration Problems

This fifth activity comes after students are to have listened to lectures about coordination (slides) and collaboration (slides) problems.

## Friday, February 21, 2014

### Classroom Activity: Comparative Advantage

This fourth activity comes after students are to have listened (slides) to a lecture on how states are currently leaving a lot of money lying on the ground by failing to cooperate more fully. The examples I used all concern economic cooperation—specifically, how there'd be a whole lot more stuff to go around if states changed their trade, exchange rate, and immigration policies—though I discuss other areas where states fail to reap all the available benefits of cooperation in other lectures. Look below the fold for details.

## Tuesday, February 18, 2014

### Seven Venial Sins of Quantitative IR

A justifiably more famous Phil recently laid out seven deadly sins of quantitative political science. Though I share all of his concerns, I don't think anyone (including Schrodt) expects people to give up the easy approach any time soon. In light of that, I'd like to highlight some small changes we all can and should make without destroying our chances of building a career. (Some of these apply pretty broadly, but others are unique to the study of IR, if you're wondering why I didn't just change the one word in the title).

Below the fold.