System Uncertainty, Risk Propensity, and International Conflict among the Great Powers

Paul Huth, D. Scott Bennett, Christopher Gelpi

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84 Scopus citations

Abstract

The authors investigate the relationship between system structure and the initiation of militarized disputes among Great Powers. The central hypotheses concern the interaction between system uncertainty and the risk propensity of national decision makers. The authors employ a research design that enables them to incorporate explanatory variables from various levels of analysis into their theoretical model. The model is tested by probit analysis on a pooled time series of Great Power rival dyads from 1816 to 1975. The empirical results support the central hypothesis that the effects of the international system are mediated by the risk propensity of decision makers. In addition, the authors find that dyadic- and unit-level variables such as arms races, power transitions, and the current and past dispute behavior of rivals also have significant effects on conflict behavior. Finally, the results indicate that nuclear weapons do not seem to have a systematic impact on the initiation of militarized disputes among Great Powers.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)478-517
Number of pages40
JournalJournal of Conflict Resolution
Volume36
Issue number3
DOIs
StatePublished - Sep 1992

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Business, Management and Accounting(all)
  • Sociology and Political Science
  • Political Science and International Relations

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