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Reputation and Hegemonic Stability: A Game-Theoretic Analysis

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  02 September 2013

James E. Alt
Harvard University
Randall L. Calvert
University of Rochester
Brian D. Humes
Michigan State University


We develop and explicate a game-theoretic model in which repeated play, incomplete information, and reputation are major elements. A significant advance of this model is the way it represents cooperation under incomplete information among rational actors of different sizes. The model is used to formalize certain aspects of the “theory of hegemonic stability.” It shows that the “dilemma” or “limits” of hegemonic stability look like natural attributes of games where reputation is involved, unifying both “benevolent” and “coercive” strands of hegemony theory. An example, drawn from recent developments in the Organization of Petroleum-exporting Countries, shows how our model of reputation guides the study of hegemonic regime construction. We conclude by comparing the nature of cooperative behavior under conditions of complete and incomplete information.

Copyright © American Political Science Association 1988

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