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Theoretical Foundations of EITM

Thomas Bräuninger (University of Mannheim)

June 29 - July 1

One of the center goals of the EITM program is to promote theoretically informed empirical research. 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 challenging him. At the same time, standard introductions to game theory often imply that such theories generate only point predictions, 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 and spatial voting models, in a form that emphasizes the techniques by which these models can be used to generate testable implications through comparative statics analysis and the analysis of parameter variations across a population.