Publications

"Game Theory." In International Encyclopedia of Political Science, ed. by Bertrand Badie, Dirk Berg-Schlosser, and Leonardo Morlino. Sage Publications, 2011.

"Legislative Coalitions in a Bargaining Model with Externalities," with Nathan Dietz. In David Austen-Smith and John Duggan, eds., Social Choice and Strategic Decisions: Essays in Honor of Jeffrey S. Banks. Springer-Verlag, 2005.

"Rationality, Identity, and Expression." In Ira Katznelson and Helen Milner, eds., Political Science: The State of the Discipline, 3rd edition. W.W. Norton and American Political Science Association, 2002.

"Interpretation and Coordination in Constitutional Politics," with James Johnson. In Ewa Hauser and Jacek Wasilewski, eds., Lessons in Democracy. Jagiellonian University Press and University of Rochester Press, 1999.

"Explaining Social Order: Internalization, External Enforcement, or Equilibrium?" In Karol Soltan, Eric Uslaner, and Virginia Haufler, eds., Institutions and Social Order. University of Michigan Press, 1998.

Editor, with John Mueller and Rick K. Wilson, of William H. Riker, The Strategy of Rhetoric: Campaigning for the American Constitution. New Haven: Yale University Press, 1996.

"Rational Actors, Equilibrium, and Social Institutions." In Jack Knight and Itai Sened, Explaining Social Institutions. University of Michigan Press, 1995.

"The Rational Choice Theory of Social Institutions: Cooperation, Coordination, and Communication." In J. Banks and E. Hanushek, eds., Modern Political Economy: Old Topics, New Directions. Cambridge University Press, 1995.

"The Rational Choice Theory of Institutions: Implications for Design." In David L. Weimer, ed., Institutional Design. Kluwer Academic Publishers, 1995.

"Strategy and Sophisticated Voting in the Senate," with Richard F. Fenno. Journal of Politics 56 (1994): 349-76.

  • Abstract: This paper extends the theory of sophisticated voting to cover situations in which legislators lack complete information about both the agenda and about their colleagues' preferences. The voting on a 1986 U.S. Senate resolution to provide full-time television coverage of Senate proceedings serves as an illustration of the theory, as well as adding to the stock of sophisticated voting cases found in the literature. Our approach makes possible a further empirical and theoretical exploration of the links between voting strategy and other aspects of legislative strategy, including agenda control, persuasion, and delay. In contrast with misgivings found in the recent literature, these connections clarify the relevance of sophisticated voting and strategic agenda manipulation for the empirical analysis of legislative politics.


"Communication in Institutions: Efficiency in a Repeated Prisoner's Dilemma with Hidden Information." In W. Barnett, M. Hinich, and N. Schofield, eds., Political Economy: Institutions, Information, Competition, and Representation. Cambridge University Press, 1993.

"Lowi's Critique of Political Science: A Response." PS: Political Science and Politics 26 (1993): 196-98.

"A Battle of the Sexes Game with Incomplete Information," with Jeffrey S. Banks. Games and Economic Behavior 4 (1992), pp. 347-72

  • Abstract: A battle-of-the-sexes game with incomplete information presents two different efficiency problems: coordination, and maximizing ex ante expected utility by favoring a player facing high stakes. Communication and mediation can allow an optimal tradeoff between the two problems. This paper gives (1) necessary conditions for (and specification of) an incentive-efficient mediation mechanism and (2) necessary and sufficient conditions for mediation to be required for efficiency. These conditions yield additional results concerning the necessity of privacy in communications and the superfluity of enforcement. Contrary to some recent studies, our results demonstrate that unmediated communication is insufficient to achieve incentive efficiency. An application to the theory of regulation is suggested. Journal of Economic Literature Classification Number: 026.


"Leadership and Its Basis in Problems of Social Coordination." International Political Science Review 13 (1992), pp. 7-24.

  • Abstract: Leadership is a means by which social groups attempt to realize gains from cooperation, coordination, and efficient allocation. The attempt to achieve such gains gives rise to further, overarching problems of coordination. The latter problems are recurrent but are likely to vary from one situation to the next; this makes decentralized methods of solution especially difficult, and provides the ultimate reason leadership is needed, invented, and accepted. Solution of such overarching problems makes leadership possible in the basic problems in which social gains are available, including activities such as organizing, sanctioning,, communicating, and allocating. The stability of leadership is based on the group's need to solve coordination problems; as a result, a leader has discretion or "power," and can get away with less-than-maximal service of group goals. This approach to understanding leadership suggests several useful techniques for the study of political leadership in particular settings.


Review of J. Mansbridge, ed., Beyond Self-Interest. American Political Science Review 85 (1991), pp. 272-73.

"Reciprocity among Self-Interested Actors: Uncertainty, Asymmetry, and Distribution." In Peter C. Ordeshook, ed., Models of Strategic Choice in Politics. University of Michigan Press, 1989

"Political Decision Making with Costly and Imperfect Information." Mathematical and Computer Modelling 12 (1989), pp. 497-509. Reprinted in Paul E. Johnson, ed., Formal Theories of Politics: Mathematical Modelling in Political Science. Pergamon Press, 1989.

  • Abstract: In political decision making, a rational actor often faces a complex simultaneous choice problem of gathering costly information and choosing among several risky alternatives. This situation can be modeled as a repeated decision problem in which the decision maker purchases an item of costly information, uses it to update beliefs and then decides whether to purchase more information or to stop and choose the alternative having highest expected utility. The problem is shown to have a well-defined solution, and the effects of differing levels of information costs and risks upon this solution are derived. Applications to the bureaucrat's choice among policy alternatives and to the voter's candidate choice problem are sketched. The model represents a full-rationality foundation for bounded-rationality models of political (and other) decision making.


"A Theory of Political Control and Agency Discretion," with Mathew D. McCubbins and Barry R. Weingast. American Journal of Political Science 33 (1989), pp. 588-611.

  • Abstract: A major issue in the study of American politics is the extent to which electoral discipline also constrains bureaucrats. In practice, executive agencies operate with considerable independence from elected officials. However, the entire process of policy execution is a game among legislators, the chief executive, and bureaucratic agents. It includes the initial delegation of authority, the choice of policy alternatives, and opportunities for oversight and control. A simple model of this process demonstrates an important distinction between bureaucratic authority and bureaucratic discretion. Indeed, in its simplest form, the model predicts a world in which bureaucrats are the sole active participants in policymaking, but in which the choice of policy is traceable entirely to the preferences of elected officials. More realistically, the model leads to a precise definition of agency discretion. These conclusions have practical applications for both students and reformers of policymaking.


"Reputation and Hegemonic Stability: A Game-Theoretic Analysis," with James E. Alt and Brian D. Humes. American Political Science Review 82 (1988), pp. 445-66.

  • Abstract: We develop and explicate a game-theoretic model in which repeated play, incomplete information, and reputation are major elements. A significant advance of this model is the way it represents cooperation under incomplete information among rational actors of different sizes. The model is used to formalize certain aspects of the "theory of hegemonic stability." It shows that the "dilemma" or "limits" of hegemonic stability look like natural attributes of games where reputation is involved, unifying both "benevolent" and "coercive" strands of hegemony theory. An example, drawn from recent developments in the Organization of Petroleum-exporting Countries, shows how our model of reputation guides the study of hegemonic regime construction. We conclude by comparing the nature of cooperative behavior under conditions of complete and incomplete information.


"Reputation and Legislative Leadership." Public Choice 55 (1987), pp. 81-119.

"Congressional Influence over Policymaking: The Case of the FTC," with Mark J. Moran and Barry R. Weingast. In M. McCubbins and T. Sullivan, eds., Congress: Structure and Policy. Cambridge University Press, 1987.

Models of Imperfect Information in Politics. Chur, Switzerland: Harwood Academic Publishers, 1986.

"The Value of Biased Information: A Rational Choice Model of Political Advice." Journal of Politics 47 (May 1985), pp. 530-555.

  • Typically, political decision making involves the concomitant problem of deciding how to use advice. Advice can reduce uncertainty about outcomes, but it is often costly to obtain and assimilate, and is itself subject to uncertainty and error. This paper explores how a rational decision maker uses imperfect advice. Using only the assumption of utility maximization, along with a specification of exactly how knowledge and advice are "imperfect," it is possible to derive some of the initial assumptions of cognitive and bounded-rationality models. Also changes in the decision-making environment can be connected to changes in how advice is used, thereby providing theoretical predictions about political behavior. In particular it is shown here that, under certain reasonable circumstances, the rational decision maker should engage in selective exposure or "bolstering." These results do not depend upon any cost advantage or inherent value in biased advice.


"Robustness of the Multidimensional Voting Model: Candidate Motivations, Uncertainty, and Convergence." American Journal of Political Science 29 (February 1985), pp. 69-95

  • Abstract: This analysis demonstrates that important implications of the multidimensional voting model are robust to significant changes in the model's assumptions. (1) If candidates in the model are allowed to be partially or totally interested in the election's policy outcomes, convergence to the median must still occur. (2) If candidates are uncertain about voters' responses, and therefore attempt to maximize the probability of winning, the candidate platforms should still converge in equilibrium under weak assumptions about symmetry of the candidates' situations. (3) If both of these nonstandard assumptions are made together, the convergence result no longer holds; but small departures from the classic assumptions lead to only small departures from convergence. In combination with other recent multidimensional voting models that examine behavior in the absence of a median, this study indicates the usefulness of the traditional model for conceptualizing electoral politics.


"Comment" (on A. Van De Kragt, J. Orbell, and R. Dawes, "The Minimal Contributing Set as a Solution to the Public Goods Problem "), with Rick K. Wilson. American Political Science Review 78 (June 1984), pp. 496-7.

"Presidential Coattails in Historical Perspective," with John A. Ferejohn. American Journal of Political Science 28 (February 1984), pp. 127-46.

  • Abstract: Two methods are used to measure presidential coattails in House elections in various electoral periods since 1868. In the direct model, House votes are determined directly by presidential votes plus extraneous and local effects. This allows separate measurements of the seats-votes relationship (swing ratio) and of the behavioral connection between presidential and congressional voting. In the simultaneous determination model, votes for both offices are simultaneous results of national issues, while factors specific to the presidential campaign enter presidential voting directly and congressional voting indirectly. The two models corroborate one another and are consistent with previous studies. An increase in coattail voting during the New Deal period is found to be due to an increase in the swing ratio over the levels of previous years, while the behavioral connection remained almost constant. On the other hand, a historically low coattail effect in recent years has been due to a reduction in the behavioral connection below any previous levels, while the swing ratio (viewed over a period of 15 years) is about what it was early in this century. Implications for executive-legislative coordination are discussed.


"Coattail Voting in Recent Presidential Elections," with John A. Ferejohn. American Political Science Review 77 (June 1983), pp. 407-19.

Abstract: This article presents a method for analyzing the extent and strength of coattail voting in presidential elections. This method allows the authors to estimate the magnitude of coattail voting and then to decompose this estimate into more "basic" elements. Estimates are given for presidential elections beginning with 1956. The determination of the coattail vote and its decomposition depend on the theory of the voting decision that is assumed. In this article we present a model of vote determination that is similar in most respects to the traditional SRC model; the vote for congressional representation in a presidential election year is determined jointly by partisan affiliation, attitudes toward the presidential candidates, and local forces unique to the congressional race (such as may be captured by an incumbency variable). This model permits the separate estimation of the strength of short-term forces and of the efficiency of the presidential coattails. Application of the model to survey data since 1956 indicates that efficiency of presidential coattails has declined during this period. Furthermore, the 1980 election does not appear to be an exception to this trend. On the other hand there has not been any particular trend in the strength of short-term forces during this period; instead events peculiar to the context of a specific election generate short-term forces at the level of the presidential election, but the degree to which these forces are carried over to local races seems to have declined.

"Runaway Bureaucracy and Congressional Oversight: Why Reforms Fail," with Barry R. Weingast. Policy Studies Review 1 (February 1982), pp. 557-64.

Review of G. Edwards, Presidential Influence in Congress, and L. Schwab, Changing Patterns of Congressional Politics. Journal of Politics 43 (May 1981), pp. 578-80.

"The Inherent Disadvantage of the Presidential Party in Midterm Congressional Elections," with R. Mark Isaac. Public Choice 36 (1981), pp. 141-46.