On the relationship between information problems and commitment problems

Most political scientists that study conflict are familiar with a pair of bargaining frictions that, on their own, can cause negotiations to break down in war: (a) information problems and (b) commitment problems. Fearon’s famous IO piece distinguishes them from one another as solutions to the inefficiency puzzle of war—i.e., why fight when peaceful negotiation can produce the same outcome without all the waste? But in scholarly practice there seems to be widespread confusion about the relationship between these two mechanisms, both in terms of where one ends and the other begins and whether/how they interact. In this post, I’m going to (try to) clear it up.

tl:dr at the bottom.

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