How Uncertainty about War Outcomes Affects War Onset

Muhammet Bas, Robert J. Schub

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

    Abstract

    In canonical accounts of war, conflict outcomes are inherently uncertain. Contesting literatures posit that this uncertainty, arising from stochastic elements of the war-fighting process, may induce conflict due to greater risks of miscalculation or foster peace by breeding caution. We theorize that states, on average, exhibit prudence when confronting greater uncertainty. Despite its conceptual importance, extant proxies for uncertainty at various levels of analysis—such as polarity, balance of power, system concentration, and dyadic relative capabilities—are imprecise and theoretically inappropriate indicators. To overcome this shortcoming, we theorize the conditions that elevate the magnitude of uncertainty over conflict outcomes and introduce a novel measure that captures this uncertainty within any k-state system. Through extensive empirical analysis, we confirm uncertainty’s pacifying effect and show how this effect operates at different levels of analysis.

    Original languageEnglish (US)
    Pages (from-to)1099-1128
    Number of pages30
    JournalJournal of Conflict Resolution
    Volume60
    Issue number6
    DOIs
    StatePublished - Sep 1 2016

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    uncertainty
    balance of power
    peace
    Uncertainty

    Keywords

    • capabilities
    • conflict
    • dyadic conflict
    • militarized interstate disputes

    ASJC Scopus subject areas

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

    Cite this

    How Uncertainty about War Outcomes Affects War Onset. / Bas, Muhammet; Schub, Robert J.

    In: Journal of Conflict Resolution, Vol. 60, No. 6, 01.09.2016, p. 1099-1128.

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

    Bas, Muhammet ; Schub, Robert J. / How Uncertainty about War Outcomes Affects War Onset. In: Journal of Conflict Resolution. 2016 ; Vol. 60, No. 6. pp. 1099-1128.
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