Theoretical Foundations of EITM
Thomas Bräuninger (University of Mannheim)
June 22-24, 2020
One of the center goals of the EITM program is to promote theoretically informed empirical research. How to improve our methodological reasoning so that empirical work is most effective and informative about theories? How to improve our theoretical reasoning to provide a larger number of useful theoretical hypotheses that can be evaluated against the evidence of empirical models?
In this setting, game theory is a primary tool for building rigorous theories because political phenomena most often involve strategic interactions which lend themselves to game-theoretic analysis. For example, challengers in a parliamentary or congressional race will consider the incumbents' response to such a challenge when deciding whether to run for candidacy or not. Likewise, rebel groups will consider the ability and willingness of an autocrat to fight a rebellion when initiating insurgency. At the same time, standard introductions to game theory frequently imply that such theories generate point predictions which oftentimes are unsuitable for testing.
In the theoretical foundations
seminar we first review basic ingredients of game-theoretic models. We then
look at important varieties of rational choice models, specifically
non-cooperative game theory, in a form that emphasizes the techniques and
research designs by which these models can be used to explore a causal
mechanism using data, e.g. evaluation of equilibrium point predictions using
parameter variations across a population, comparative statics that is the
evaluation of relationship predictions, as well as structural estimation
Thomas Bräuninger is Professor of Political Economy at the University of Mannheim and Associate Editor of the American Political Science Review.