Contribution Shares in Alliances

J.C. Borck, D. King, and R. Zeckhauser (USA)


Alliances, Collective Action, Free Riders, Public Goods, Defense


That small players often free ride on the efforts of large players in an alliance is a fundamental conclusion of the collective action literature. But small players who benefit from joining an alliance and also provide significant benefits to other players by joining can do even better than these traditional free riders. By threatening not to join unless they receive some of the gain their participation provides, such players can get paid extra for joining an alliance they want to join anyway. We present a simple two-player model of the situation, explore several general results, and illustrate the phenomenon with examples from international relations, domestic politics, and business.

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