Julian Wucherpfennig’s new research finds power sharing reduces civil conflict

In a forthcoming paper published by International Studies Quarterly, Professor of International Affairs and Security examines the effectiveness of executive power sharing to manage conflict in multiethnic states.

Julian Wucherpfennig’s, Professor of International Affairs and Security at the Hertie School, new research argues that previous research has tended to underestimate the effectiveness of power sharing as a suitable means for securing peace in multiethnic states.

When examining the effectiveness of power sharing in reducing civil conflict, concerns about reverse causation render empirical analysis difficult, since power sharing may be systematically more likely to involve groups that hold a higher potential for conflict to begin with. In this case, the track-record for power sharing as a tool for conflict management will be artificially biased downward, precisely because power sharing will be applied mostly under difficult conditions.

To account for these concerns, Wucherpfennig's article, "Executive Power Sharing in the Face of Civil War", analyzes a game-theoretic model to capture the conditions under which governments are likely to share power depending on the level of threat posed by a domestic challenger. His paper formulates a tailor-made statistical "strategic selection" model that directly incorporates these insights, allowing for improved analysis. Wucherpfennig’s results show that critics of power sharing have likely overstated its faults, at least in part because of the insufficient attention paid to reverse causation.

"My evidence directly contradicts current claims that in order to curb ethnic civil war, one should strengthen existing strongmen, 'un-mix' ethnic groups entirely through partition, or fight until one side secures a decisive victory" says Wucherpfennig. "Instead, my main results strongly suggest that compromise in the form of power sharing systematically reduces inter-ethnic conflict."

Read the full paper here.

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