Professor Michael D. McGinnis, Indiana University


Curriculum Vita


Michael D. McGinnis and John T. Williams, Compound Dilemmas: Democracy, Collective Action, and Superpower Rivalry, University of Michigan Press, 2001. [Introduction

For most of the period after World War II until the fall of the Soviet empire, there was a remarkable consensus in the United States in support of our policies toward the Soviet Union . This consensus resulted in enormous defense expenditures and in the development of a system of alliances that spanned the globe and marked a vast expansion of America 's overseas obligations.

Compound Dilemmas addresses the question of how such widespread domestic support for a very expensive and continual arms race developed. Current models of the arms race often fail to explain the persistence of American support or the pattern of the U.S. response to Soviet actions. Michael D. McGinnis and John T. Williams use social choice theory to offer a new understanding of popular support for U.S. Cold War policies, including the American arms buildup. The authors consider the use domestic actors made of information about Soviet military expenditures in developing consensus on the size and nature of the appropriate American military response. In addition, their use of game theory and statistical analysis offers new insights into how these methods might be employed to understand foreign policy questions.

This book will appeal to political scientists interested particularly in methodology, international relations, and American aspects of the political system. It will also be of interest to readers seeking information about the Cold War and its arms race.

Michael D. McGinnis, editor. Polycentric Governance and Development: Readings from the Workshop in Political Theory and Policy Analysis, University of Michigan Press, 1999. [Introduction and Table of Contents]

How do local communities collectively manage those resources that are most important to their own survival or prosperity? Wherever they are located, all communities face similar dilemmas of collective action: how can common goals be realized despite the presence of individual incentives to over-exploit common resources for private gain? The readings collected in Polycentric Governance and Development show the achievements of scholars associated with the Workshop in Political Theory and Policy Analysis at Indiana University in understanding how communities have dealt with dilemmas of collective action. Their analyses also have profound implications for broader issues of development.

The central insight of the research collected in the volume is this: much can be learned by a careful examination of the ways in which local communities have organized themselves to solve collective problems, achieve common aspirations, and resolve conflicts. The first two sections deal with efforts to manage water and other common-pool resources on a relatively small scale. Section three moves to the macro-level of analysis, with particular attention given to examples of constitutional order from Africa , while section four demonstrates that local organizations and informal networks can play essential roles in furthering democratization and development. The concluding section addresses issues at the national level, by linking the practical world of resource management and development policy to the abstract world of the policy analyst. This collection of essays is designed to illustrate how all the pieces fit together and to suggest connections among multiple levels and modes of analysis.

Contributors include William Blomquist, Kathryn Firmin-Sellers, Roy Gardner, Dele Olowu, Elinor Ostrom, Vincent Ostrom, Amos Sawyer, Edella Schlager, Shui Yan Tang, Wai Fung Lam, and James S. Wunsch.

Michael D. McGinnis, editor. Polycentricity and Local Public Economies: Readings from the Workshop in Political Theory and Policy Analysis, University of Michigan Press, 1999. [Introduction and Table of Contents]

The study of metropolitan political economies in the United States has provided much of the intellectual inspiration for the research of the Workshop in Political Theory and Policy Analysis at Indiana University . The readings collected in Polycentricity and Local Public Economies present an overview of the results of this research program on police services and metropolitan governance as well as enduring lessons for institutional analysis and public policy.

Polycentricity and Local Public Economies presents both explorations of broad general concepts and specific empirical analyses. The many interactions between the two modes of analysis provide valuable insights for the reader. Readings in the first section cover basic theoretical concepts and analytical distinctions that apply to the study of institutions generally. The second section includes conceptual pieces specifically addressed to the nature of governance in metropolitan areas, while section three reports on a series of empirical studies of police performance. Section four again broadens the focus to highlight the overall organization of local public economies. The final section discusses conceptual advances that have continuing relevance for research and policy debates.

Contributors include Paula C. Baker, William Blomquist, Larry L. Kiser, Ronald J. Oakerson, Elinor Ostrom, Vincent Ostrom, Roger B. Parks, Stephen L. Percy, Charles M. Tiebout, Martha Vandivort, Robert Warren, Gordon P. Whitaker, and Rick Wilson.

Michael D. McGinnis, editor. Polycentric Games and Institutions: Readings from the Workshop in Political Theory and Policy Analysis, University of Michigan Press, 2000. [Introductions and Table of Contents]

Polycentric Games and Institutions summarizes contributions to the analysis of institutions made by scholars associated with the Workshop in Political Theory and Policy Analysis at Indiana University .

The readings in this volume illustrate several varieties of institutional analysis. Each reading builds upon the foundation of game theory to address similar sets of questions concerning institutions and self-governance. The chapters in the first section lay out interrelated frameworks for analysis. Section two illustrates the normative component of institutions and their effects on human behavior. Readings in the following two sections detail how these frameworks have been applied to models of specific situations. Section five presents a modeling exercise exploring the functions of monitoring and enforcement, and the sixth section discusses approaches to the problems of complexity that confront individuals playing polycentric games. The final readings provide overviews of experimental research on the behavior of rational individuals.

Contributors include Arun Agrawal, Sue E. S. Crawford, Clark C. Gibson, Roberta Herzberg, Larry L. Kiser, Michael McGinnis, Stuart A. Marks, Elinor Ostrom, Vincent Ostrom, James Walker, Franz J. Weissing, John T. Williams, and Rick Wilson.

Journal Articles

Michael D. McGinnis, "Policy Substitutability in Complex Humanitarian Emergencies: A Model of Individual Choice and International Response," Journal of Conflict Resolution, Vol. 44, No. 1, (February 2000), pp. 62-89.

Complex humanitarian emergencies involve population movements on a massive scale, driven by drought, famine, or war. The international community may respond with humanitarian aid or peacekeeping operations, but local responses to international intervention may exacerbate the emergency. Combatants divert aid to finance coercive activities, and peacekeeping operations are resisted by those who benefit from social disruption. This paper develops a rational choice model that shows how individuals’ choices among their options of production, coercion, and relocation affect the aggregate supply and demand of food in ongoing conflicts. This model demonstrates that humanitarian aid and peacekeeping operations have complementary strengths, and that the international community can best achieve its goals by carrying out both kinds of operations. This simple model captures important aspects of the "policy substitutability" and "alternative trigger" effects in complex humanitarian emergencies, and suggestions for future research are outlined.

John T. Williams, Michael D. McGinnis, and John C. Thomas, "Breaking the War-Economy Link," International Interactions, 1994, 20 (3), 169-188.

We present evidence that the causal link from world production to war severity (as documented by Goldstein) begins to break down by the time of the Franco-Prussian War. To explain this finding we develop a simple choice-theoretic model based on the assumption of a long-term decline in the (average) net economic benefits of war, as perceived by policymakers. We derive some additional macro-level implications of this micro-level model and discuss the ways in which advances in economic institutionalization provide policymakers with increasingly attractive alternative avenues for their pursuit of power and wealth.

Michael D. McGinnis and John T. Williams, "Policy Uncertainty and Two-Level Games: Examples of Correlated Equilibria," International Studies Quarterly, March 1993, 37:1, 29-54.

Recent research on two-level game models emphasizes the close interaction between the domestic and foreign policies of states, but these states are usually interpreted as unitary rational actors and these two policy arenas are generally kept separate. We develop integrated models of multi-level policy games in which the locus of strategic action remains at the individual (or group) level. Social choice theory identifies fundamental dilemmas associated with assuming that states have consistent preferences, yet empirical observation reveals that domestic political competition results in regularized patterns of behavior at the state and international levels. In our models the expectations of individual Bayesian policy actors converge to a "correlated equilibrium" that defines a probability distribution over domestic and foreign policy outcomes. We compare examples of correlated equilibria in a Chicken game between two unitary rational states, a voting game among three domestic groups, and a two-level game in which each state's foreign policy is determined by this voting game. By focusing on the collective consequences of the strategic interactions of Bayesian rational individuals, this synthesis of game, social choice, and Bayesian decision theories highlights fundamental linkages among the regularities observed in domestic politics, foreign policy, and international relations.

John T. Williams and Michael D. McGinnis, "The Dimension of Superpower Rivalry: A Dynamic Factor Analysis," Journal of Conflict Resolution, March 1992, 36:1, 86-118.

The security policies of the United States and the Soviet Union can be interpreted as manifestations of a single "rivalry system." If each state's security policies are driven by the same underlying factors, then any effort to separate the contributions of internal and external determinants of the arms race is essentially misleading. We use dynamic factor analysis to evaluate whether an unobservable dimension of rivalry explains the dynamics exhibited by the military expenditures and diplomatic hostility of these two states. A one-factor model explains much of the variance of these data series, although some evidence indicates the possible existence of a second factor. More generally, the results of this analysis question the validity of many structural equation models of dyadic interaction.

Michael D. McGinnis, "Richardson, Rationality, and Restrictive Models of Arms Races," Journal of Conflict Resolution, September 1991, 35:3, 443-473.

Richardson's simple arms race model inspired an extensive (and still growing) body of research by scholars in many disciplines. Unfortunately, much of this work follows Richardson's lead by paying scant attention to domestic politics and decision-making processes. Despite the use of increasingly sophisticated formal models, empirical measures, and statistical methods, progress has been stymied by continued reliance on rigid models and literal interpretations of statistical tests, especially regarding the relative potency of external and internal factors. A new approach to modeling is required if we are to understand the underlying dynamics of resource allocation that sustain an arms race. I argue that the substantive complexities of arms rivalries can be implicitly encompassed by simple rational models considerably less restrictive than Richardson's model.

Michael D. McGinnis, "Limits to Cooperation: Iterated Graduated Games and the Arms Race," International Interactions, 1991, 16:4, 271-293.

The arms race is often modeled as mutual defection in a Prisoner's Dilemma game and arms control as reciprocal cooperation in an iterated Prisoner's Dilemma game, while Chicken and other games are used to represent different aspects of superpower rivalry. This paper develops a model of the macro-structure of superpower rivalry in which each of these games occur at different levels of military expenditures or other measures of military effort. In this iterated graduated game model the two rival states repeatedly select from an ordered sequence of policy options, and each state experiences tradeoffs among the desire to gain an advantage over the rival, the dangers of escalation, and the intrinsic benefits and opportunity costs of military expenditures. Analysis of numerical examples demonstrates that equilibrium in this model corresponds to the intermediate levels of cooperation and conflict characteristic of superpower rivalry. A concluding discussion indicates that this model is also consistent with the existence of policy competition among domestic groups with conflicting interests.

Michael D. McGinnis, "A Rational Model of Regional Rivalry," International Studies Quarterly, March 1990, 34:1, 111-135.

A rational choice model of the arms acquisitions and alignments of regional rivals is developed that incorporates the restraining effects of economic opportunity costs as well as the political opportunity costs of alignment concessions and dependence on foreign sources of arms. Emphasis is placed on the consequences of substitutability between arms and alignment in the production of security and on the connections between arms and alignment in the production of security and on the connections between rivalries at the regional and global levels. This model imposed only general qualitative restrictions rather than specific equations, and it encompasses a wide range of behavior, including self-reliance, diversification, dependence, nonalignment, alignment reversals, and a generalized arms-alignment race. The broad scope of this model poses several challenges for future formal and empirical research in this area.

Michael D. McGinnis and John T. Williams, "Change and Stability in Superpower Rivalry," American Political Science Review, December 1989, 83:4, 1101-1123.

This paper investigates the dynamics of superpower rivalry. Participants in policy debates within each state use information about expected future threats and economic costs to influence other policy actors, and this process of sophisticated reaction links the security policies of these two states into a single rivalry system. Analysis of vector autoregression models of U.S. and Soviet military expenditures and diplomatic hostility and U.S. GNP supports the hypothesis that these policies approximate the behavior of unitary rational states capable of forming rational expectations of each other's future behavior. The dynamic response of this system to a wide range of exogenous shocks (or innovations) reveals the underlying stability of this rivalry system. The military expenditures of both states exhibit a cyclical response to innovations, with a shorter U.S. cycle. This lack of synchronization creates several problems for analysis and for policy change.

John H. Aldrich and Michael D. McGinnis, "A Model of Party Constraints on Optimal Candidate Positions," Mathematical and Computer Modelling, 1989, 12:4/5, 437-450.

In this paper we propose a generalized version of the spatial model of electoral competition. A model of political parties is developed and a general theorem about the existence of distinct Nash equilibria distributions of party activists is proven. Candidates are assumed to acquire resources from the party and its activists and through the candidate's own campaign organization to assist in their campaign efforts, and they are assumed to value both winning and policy outcomes. We then explore the formal properties of this more general model, especially examining the impact of party-based resources and of candidate policy preferences on the optimal location of candidates. We show, in particular, that such positions will, in general, be divergent, and yet there will be regular differentiation between the nominees of the two political parties. 

John T. Williams and Michael D. McGinnis, "Sophisticated Reaction in the U.S.-Soviet Arms Race: Evidence of Rational Expectations," American Journal of Political Science, November 1988, 32:4, 968-995.

Because of the pervasive security rivalry between the United States and the Soviet Union, information about the expected future behavior of the rival states proves useful to domestic political actors competing to influence budgetary allocations. This article examines the hypothesis that, in the aggregate, this process of "sophisticated reaction" approximates the behavior of two unitary rational states capable of forming rational expectations of each other's behavior. This Rational Expectations Arms Race model implies that the military expenditure series of arms racers should be independent in the Granger causal sense, but that their residuals should be correlated contemporaneously. The latter prediction is inconsistent with bureaucratic process models or alternative expectations formulations, and empirical analysis of U.S. and Soviet yearly military expenditures is provided that supports the predictions of the REAR model. Finally, some implications of this intimate linkage between the domestic policy processes of these two rival superpowers are briefly discussed.

Michael D. McGinnis, "Issue Linkage and the Evolution of International Cooperation," Journal of Conflict Resolution, March 1986, 30:1, 141-170.

This article extends Axelrod's results concerning the evolution of cooperation to situations in which a pair of individuals is simultaneously engaged in several continuing interactions, all of the Prisoners' Dilemma type. It is shown formally that in such a PD multisupergame, players may adopt strategies that create linkages across time and games, thus opening up new opportunities for cooperative outcomes in games for which cooperation would not be rational if considered in isolation. However, such issue-based cooperation is often very brittle, in that attempts to include or delete issues may shatter the existing basis of cooperation. Numerical examples are given to demonstrate the wide variety of possible cooperative equilibria and the sensitivity of these equilibria to small changes in the payoffs in each game. Some implications for the evolution of arms control and other international regimes are discussed. 

Book Chapters and Other Publications

Michael McGinnis, "Beyond Individualism and Spontaneity: Comments on Peter Boettke and Christopher Coyne," forthcoming in Journal of Economic Behavior and Organization, June 2005.

This paper builds on the work of Boettke and Coyne which locates the research of Elinor and Vincent Ostrom and their Workshop colleagues within a broad intellectual tradition of long duration.  It is argued that the Ostroms and the rest of the Workshop have made rather substantial departures beyond these intellectual forebears than may be evident from Boettke and Coyne’s overview.  Specific focus is placed on two of the major points that they discuss: methodological individualism and spontaneous order.

Michael D. McGinnis, "Enhancing Institutional Diversity in a Globalizing World," in Gobernabilidad: Nuevos Actores, Neuvos Desafíos, edición, coordinación y compilación: Alberto Ortega Venzor, Carlos Alberton martínez Castillo, Vanessa Zárate, Memorias 2002 IBERGOP-Mexico, Vol. II, Mexico: Editorial Porrúa, 2002, pp. 639-657. [paper]

I have been asked to speak about globalization and its effects on local communities, and about how federalism might improve or change these effects. I wish to make only a few points concerning this very large topic. First, I argue that local communities have considerably more resources at their disposal than is generally realized, specifically arising from the diversity of institutional arrangements from which they may select. Second, I want to introduce a few of the analytical categories that may help us bring some order to this diversity. Third, and finally, I want to suggest a re-orientation of attitude, particularly on the part of policy makers and public officials, to focus on sustaining community access to a wide range of institutional choices.

Michael McGinnis, "Rent-Seeking, Redistribution, and Reform in the Governance of Global Markets," in Globalization and Governance, edited by Jeffrey Hart and Aseem Prakash. London and New York: Routledge Press, 1999, 54-76.

International relations theorists presume that a particular form of organization (the state) provides all aspects of governance, from the writing and enforcement of laws and regulations to the production of public goods. Globalization is said to be changing all that, as rapid economic and technological changes make it easier for individuals and private organizations to reach across national borders to devise new ways of organizing their collective endeavors. In this chapter I question whether globalization really constitutes a fundamental change in the nature of global governance. Different governance services have routinely been provided by a wide range of formal organizations and informal arrangements at all levels of social aggregation. The accelerating effects of globalization force international relations theorists to take off their blinders, to confront the full array of governance organizations that have been there all along.

Governance needs to be broken down into its constituent service activities, each of which can be provided by individuals or organizations specializing in the production or provision of that particular service. The co-existence of multiple service providers suggests that, in some circumstances, it may be useful to talk of a "market" in governance services. Globalization imparts important changes to the structure of governance markets, but these changes may fall well short of a fundamental transformation.

Since pre-existing organizations are well-placed to expand their range of services, any one provider of governance services may come to provide a diverse array of governance services to overlapping or even distinct groups. Yet all organizations have a certain logic, as well as a central purpose. Those organizations that step outside this range of expected behavior face increased costs of transactions, for they must find some way to assuage the concerns of their potential customers or supporters. They may also face competition from other organizations offering similar services that have core functions located in other sectors.

The modern welfare state is a multifaceted, multi-purpose organization that is potentially vulnerable to challenge from sectoral or other narrowly focused organizations. But national authorities have recourse to a uniquely complete complement of resources: economic, coercive, and social. Elsewhere in this volume, Cerny argues that redistribution is no longer the exclusive purview of political authorities but is instead carried out in a broad array of organizational contexts. Still, as long as the symbolism of nationalism remains influential, national political authorities will retain a unique advantage in justifying extractions for redistributive purposes. The basic conclusion of this analysis is that those governance organizations or networks of related service providers that most effectively combine the provision of economic-productive, coercive-protective, and social-communal services are most likely to survive and prosper. In short, stable governance requires a capacity for redistribution and reform.

Michael McGinnis and Elinor Ostrom, "Design Principles for Local and Global Commons," in The International Political Economy and International Institutions, Oran Young, ed., Cheltenham, UK: Edward Elgar Publishing, 1996, Vol. II, pp. 464-493. 

Debates on institutional responses to global political and economic issues are dominated by the time-worn mind-sets of The State and The Market. Clearly, markets and formal organizational hierarchies (states or IGOs) are appropriate solutions for many circumstances. However, markets and hierarchies do not, by any means, exhaust the range of possibilities. Evaluation of alternatives to state and market has been the focus of the Institutional Analysis and Development (IAD) framework that has evolved out of several decades of work by colleagues associated with the Workshop in Political Theory and Policy Analysis. In this paper, we use the framework of institutional analysis to help suggest ways of organizing and extending work on international cooperation.

In particular, we will draw on research on institutional arrangements in the management of common-pool resources (CPRs), usually in fairly small-scale settings. A major focus of this work has been on micro-level, self-organizing and self-enforcing capabilities. Another focus of this work concerns the ways in which macro-political orders enhance or detract from the capabilities of those directly involved in problem solving to create new institutions or reform prior institutions in order to cope more effectively with their own problems.

We argue that the conclusions of research on small-scale settings are relevant to the analysis of international cooperation for three fundamental reasons. First, the substantive nature of many local and global problems is similar. Second, despite vast differences in the scale involved in local and global commons, the underlying logical configuration of the CPR situation at these levels is fundamentally similar. Thus, the theoretical principles underlying successful cooperation at both levels are also similar. Third, any global regime that undermines the requisites for successful cooperation at the local level is unlikely to be sustainable in the long run.

After briefly reviewing the theoretical underpinnings and the major conclusions of this research program, we present an extended discussion of the application of these conclusions to issues of cooperation in the global political arena. We pay particular attention to the complications that arise from the diversity of the collective action organizations involved in global politics, as well as the ways in which this diversity can be used to enhance the robustness of global regimes. We conclude with a brief discussion of the types of game theoretic models that would be most useful for evaluating alternative institutional arrangements.

Michael D. McGinnis, "Rational Choice and Foreign Policy Change: The Arms and Alignments of Regional Powers," in Foreign Policy Restructuring: How Governments Respond to Global Change, edited by Jerel A. Rosati, Joe D. Hagan, and Martin W. Sampson III, Columbia, SC: University of South Carolina Press, 1994, pp. 65-87.

Michael McGinnis focuses his analysis on the restructuring of national security policies among regional rivals from a rational choice perspective. Changes in the arms acquisitions and alignments of regional rivals are analyzed as the consequence of the rational behavior of regimes seeking to maintain both external security and domestic support. Specifically, McGinnis develops a framework for explaining significant changes in regional power security policies as a result of a rational response to changes in three major constraints--the external threat from regional rivals, the arms transfer and alignment policies of the great powers, and the nature of each regime's domestic support structure. The utility of this rational choice approach to security policy restructuring is illustrated through case studies of regional rivalries between India and Pakistan, Ethiopia and Somalia, and North Korea and South Korea. Unlike the previous two chapters, which provide a more general overview of foreign policy change, McGinnis provides the reader with more specialized insight into the sources of continuity and change in the national security policies of regional powers. In addition, his use of the rational choice perspective illustrates the range of interpretation possible in the study of foreign policy restructuring.

John T. Williams and Michael D. McGinnis, "Expectations and the Dynamics of U.S. Defense Budgets: A Critique of Organizational Reaction Models," in The Political Economy of Military Spending in the United States, edited by Alex Mintz, pp. 282-304. London and New York: Routledge, 1992.

Although domestic and international factors interact in complex ways to affect military spending levels, it has become a standard analytic practice to separate them into two distinct categories and to compare the relative magnitude of internal and external factors in statistical analyses of arms race models. Most of these empirical analyses indicate that domestic factors are generally more influential than external factors, and a series of influential articles has focused on models of the political processes through which the United States military budget is set. In contrast to the two unitary states included in Richardson's action-reaction model, these "organizational reaction" models of the defense budgetary process treat the military bureaucracies, President, and Congress as separate organizations, each following different decision rules (or reaction functions) reflecting their differing perspectives and interests.

The primary motivation for these organizational reaction models is their increased realism, but these models also unnaturally constrain the range of behavior available to individuals competing to influence state policy. In this paper we investigate a more general model based on application of rational choice theory to individual policy actors. Actors' expectations play a prominent role in this interpretation, for defense policy is driven by their efforts to anticipate future security threats. We first contrast the logical underpinnings of both approaches and then analyze data on the U.S. defense budgetary process from this expectational viewpoint.

Michael McGinnis and Elinor Ostrom, "Institutional Analysis and Global Climate Change: Design Principles for Robust International Regimes," pp. 45-85 in Marian Rice, Joel Snow, and Harold Jacobson, eds. Global Climate Change: Social and Economic Research Issues, Proceedings of a Conference held at Argonne National Laboratory, Chicago, Feb. 1992.

We presume that major efforts will be made to alter institutions so as to respond to the perceived threat of global warming. We hope that these changes would be based on the best evolving scientific knowledge about factors that affect global weather patterns. We also hope that adopted changes would be based on the best evolving scientific knowledge about the factors that affect human behavior as this behavior in turn affects global weather. Policy changes based on an inadequate understanding of how individuals respond to institutional change can be just as damaging to our common future as changes based on an inadequate understanding of the general circulation models.

The current emphasis on global solutions based on international conventions and on managing environmental change may be fundamentally misguided. National governments, who are called upon to take the initiative to prevent deforestation and desertification, have, in many instances been a major contributor to the exacerbation of these processes in the past. By attempting to manage the global commons, institutions that enable individuals to govern and manage many local and regional commons can be destroyed in the process or lose their capability for innovation and discovery.

This paper should be viewed as our effort to review recent literature on international regimes, institutional analysis, and on international security and arrive at preliminary understandings of lessons that apply to the questions we have been asked to address. We begin by briefly surveying the broad range of substantive areas studied by researchers on international regimes. After summarizing the basic principles and implications of institutional analyses of common pool resource regimes, with a particular emphasis on the "design principles" that characterize robust CPR regimes, we justify our extension of the results of research on cooperation in small-scale CPR situations to problems of global climatic change. We argue that a major difference is the diversity of actors involved in the global arena and the substantial asymmetries that exist among these actors. We offer a rough typology of the collective actors typically engaged in monitoring and sanctioning of international regimes. The diversity of possible combinations of actor types suggests some cautionary notes about the contribution formal models can make to our collective understanding of institutional responses to global climatic change. We conclude with a brief examination of the lessons for broader issues of global cooperations that can be derived from prior efforts at arms control.

Michael D. McGinnis, "Bridging or Broadening the Gap? A Comment on Wagner's 'Rationality and Misperception in Deterrence Theory'," Journal of Theoretical Politics, 1992, 4(4), 443-457.

For several decades nuclear deterrence theorists have debated the relative importance of rationality and psychology in explaining the behavior of national policy makers during international crises. In a recent issue of this journal, R. Harrison Wagner (1992) castigates psychological critics for ignoring recent advances in game theory that have provided a means to incorporate misperception and other psychological factors into rational models of deterrence situations. Although I share Wagner's interest in establishing an effective link between these research communities, in this comment I contest his assertion that this link can best be achieved by signalling game models of nuclear and other forms of deterrence. Instead, I argue that continued reliance on these models will widen the gap between rational deterrence theorists and their critics.

Although I agree that signalling game models contribute to a better understanding of the rational basis of deterrence theory, I argue that these same models divert attention from alternative approaches that hold out more promise for linking formal models and empirical analysis. The basic problem, as I see it, is that rational deterrence models are typically used to explain the outcomes of individual crises, even though the techniques of rational choice theory are most appropriate for explaining patterns of long-term or aggregate behavior. In order to forge closer links between rational and psychological explanations of deterrence, I conclude that it is essential for international relations researchers to take an active role in creating alternative models of foreign policy drawing on other choice theoretic traditions.

 Ph.D. Dissertation

Michael McGinnis, Arms, Aid, and Allies: A Formal Model of the Security Policies of Regional Powers, Ph.D. dissertation, University of Minnesota, Minneapolis, 1985

In this dissertation a rational choice model of the arms acquisitions and alignments of regional powers is developed and tested. A regional power may obtain substantial benefits from increased access to the arms imports, military aid, and alliance support of the global powers, but at the costs of military or political concessions which generally undermine its autonomy. This Regional Security Competition Model builds on the assumption that regional powers act to maximize their security for minimum costs in foregone economic welfare, foreign dependence, and the political costs of alignment. It requires the imposition of only general qualitative relationships, and it encompasses a broad range of behavior, including regional arms races and alignment reversals.

For cases in which each of two regional rivals has potential access to two global powers, four qualitative patterns of regional power security policies are shown to be optimal in different circumstances: self-reliance, diversification of weapons suppliers while nonaligned or while aligned, and dependence on a single patron. Necessary conditions for changes within or across these patterns are derived, which require certain qualitative changes in its perceived security threat, the arms access and support offered by the global powers and other sources, or its relative distaste for alignment with the global powers.

SIPRI and ACDA data and a limited alignment events data set are used to identify 18 instances of significant changes in the arms acquisitions and alignments of India-Pakistan, Ethiopia-Somalia, and North-South Korea. Empirical analysis based on the standard interpretations of area specialists demonstrates that 15 of these changes are clearly consistent with the model's implications. The remaining three changes are related to North Korea's concerns with domestic legitimacy and to its indirect military actions against the South, and the final chapter outlines possible extensions to include domestic security concerns as well as war initiation decisions.

Overall, the analysis reported in this dissertation strongly supports the contention that the disparate security policies of regional powers can indeed be interpreted as reflections of their common security concerns filtered through differing economic, ideological, and arms supply constraints.

Working Papers

"Rebellion, Religion, and Rational Choice Institutionalism: Towards an Integrated Framework for Analysis," Annual Meeting of the Midwest Political Science Association, Chicago, April 2005. [paper, powerpoint]

Religious leaders and organizations can play important roles in all stages of a rebellion, from providing (1) inspiration for political mobilization to (2) justifications for or against political violence to (3) facilitation of peace talks and to (4) implementation of post-conflict reconciliation. In each stage, the well-intentioned efforts of the relevant faith-based organizations often produce surprisingly negative unintended consequences. This paper examines these multiple, inter-linked social dilemmas by outlining an informal framework for analysis based upon rational choice institutionalism (or institutional analysis). Basic strengths and weaknesses of this framework are examined, and preliminary suggestions are made towards the definition of questions for subsequent research and policy evaluation.

"Faith-Based Multi-Functionality and Public Policy: An Initial Research Agenda," Colloquium on Environmental and Resource Economics, Humboldt University, Berlin, November 23, 2004 [paperpowerpoint]

This paper is a revised version of my proposal for sabbatical leave for 2004-05. During that time I would like to begin work on my next research project on the dynamic interplay among religious and political organizations and their implications for public policy, particularly at the international level. In this proposal I lay out an initial research agenda for this project.

"Who Negotiates and to What Effect When Parties are Trapped in a Multi-Phase Equilibrium of a Multi-Track Regional Conflict System?" Prepared for presentation at the Annual Meeting of the Peace Science Society, Ann Arbor, Michigan, November 13-16, 2003. [paper; figures; power point presentation]

This paper presents an overview of a draft book manuscript entitled Organizing for Rebellion and for Peace in the Horn of Africa: An Institutional Analysis of a Regional Conflict System. This book explores interconnections among political processes occurring in times of peace, rebellion, and post-conflict reconstruction, with particular reference to events in the Horn of Africa.

Michael McGinnis, "Arms, Aid and Illicit Trade as Inputs to Rebellion: Some Implications of Substitutability in Rebel Organizations," presented at the 98th Annual Meeting of the American Political Science Association, Boston, August 28-September 1, 2002.  [Word version]

This paper outlines an institutional approach to the study of rebellions. It identifies and highlights the importance of three modes of substitutability: behavioral-routine, strategic choice, and institutional design. The first two sections lay out a conceptualization of rebel leaders as entrepreneurs who gather resource inputs (weapons, economic resources, human effort) and guide their transformation into behavioral outputs on the battlefield and at the negotiating table. Although they can substitute one input source or behavior for another, only certain configurations of inputs and outputs are sustainable over the long haul. Section 3 shows how these factors interact in a "configural" manner to define different "types" of rebel organizations Section 4 details a duplicitous negotiating strategy that might help explain the frequency of failed peace agreements. In section 5 rebel organizations in Eritrea (EPLF) and southern Sudan (SPLA) are used to illustrate two contrasting types of rebel organizations. Section 6 outlines a research agenda on the dynamics of civil wars and rebellions in which all three modes of substitutability play important roles. Finally, policy interventions that can enhance desirable modes of substitutability and limit the effects of dangerous ones in each stage of the sequence from peace to civil war to peace are discussed in the conclusion.

Michael McGinnis, "Reciprocal Destabilization: A Two-Level Security Dilemma Involving Rebellions, Refugees, and Regional Conflict," presented at the Annual Meeting of the International Studies Association, Chicago, Illinois, February 21-24, 2001. [pdf version]

Why do governments so often provide support to rebels fighting the government of a neighboring state? Also, once a pattern of “reciprocal destabilization” has been established between neighboring states, their leaders often find it difficult to cease such assistance. This paper uses examples of reciprocal destabilization from recent conflicts in the Horn of Africa and Kurdistan to illustrate a few stylized facts about this phenomenon. An informal model is then used to motivate a series of hypotheses which specify the conditions under which reciprocal destabilization should be expected to occur and persist. The paper concludes with a discussion of two ways in which these hypotheses might be tested in future research.

Michael McGinnis, "Conflict Dynamics in a Three-Level Game: Local, National, and International Conflict in the Horn of Africa," Thirty-Third North American Meeting of the Peace Science Society (International), The University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, Michigan, October 8-10, 1999. [pdf version]

After stating several stylized facts abstracted from the complex patterns of international wars and internal conflicts in the Horn of Africa over the past four decades, this paper discusses the relevant aspects of state formation and international structure that can jointly explain these patterns. Three separate levels of conflict dynamics are addressed: (1) local conflicts among identity groups, (2) conflicts among contenders for national power, and (3) international wars between national governments. Similar dynamic patterns occur in each level, and these conflicts are linked through resource exchanges between organizations operating at different levels. The ready availability of coercion-relevant resources undercuts actors’ incentives to seek more creative solutions to their conflicts, thus fueling continued conflict at all three levels. Since this project remains at a preliminary stage, the final section offers suggestions for further development of this model, as well as some tentative policy implications.

Michael McGinnis, "Institutional Analysis and the Future of the Workshop: Toward a Tocquevillean Synthesis of the Policy Sciences?," Opening Plenary Session, 25th Anniversary 2nd Workshop on the Workshop, Indiana University, June 10-12, 1999. [pdf version]

In the first twenty-five years of its existence, the Workshop in Political Theory and Policy Analysis has supported an extensive array of research projects ranging from police services in U.S. metropolitan areas to common-pool resources throughout the developing world, and from small groups of experimental subjects to the macro-level structure of constitutional order. These diverse research programs are linked by a coherent approach to the study of institutions, as I argue elsewhere (McGinnis 1999a,b,c). In this paper, I critically evaluate the record of Workshop scholarship. I begin by briefly reviewing the core components and major conclusions and contributions of this research tradition. After placing this work within the context of other influential traditions on the study of institutions, I suggest a few areas that seem to me to require further development. The paper concludes with some reflections on what might be done to better integrate the insights provided by Workshop-affiliated scholars with mainstream work in political science and economics. These comments are constructive, suggesting ways to build upon and extend the established strengths of the Workshop record. At the very least, I hope my comments help elicit productive discussions among the participants in this 25th anniversary 2nd Workshop on the Workshop (WOW2).

Michael McGinnis, "NGO Response to Complex Humanitarian Emergencies: A Preliminary Analysis," paper presented at the Thirty-First North American Meeting of the Peace Science Society (International), Indianapolis, Indiana, November 20-23, 1997.

Humanitarian aid organizations (HAOs) are non-governmental organizations (NGOs) that provide emergency supplies of food, medicine, and shelter to peoples displaced by war or domestic conflict. HAOs must raise funds by convincing individual or corporate donors to exchange tangible resources for an intangible sense of well-being or to realize tax breaks and/or by fulfilling contracts with donor governments or intergovernmental organizations. HAOs typically arise to serve the ethical concerns and/or material interests of religious organizations, medical professionals, or democratic publics and governments. Relevant members of the U.S.-based InterAction NGO alliance are used to illustrate the ways in which new HAOs arise to fill niches left open by pre-existing organizations. An agenda for future research is laid out, with particular emphasis on what an analysis of HAO activities might be able to tell us about nature of governance.

Revised March 24, 2005