Hierarchies and the Survival of POWs during WWII

Management Science, Forthcoming

32 Pages Posted: 24 Feb 2009 Last revised: 29 Aug 2012

See all articles by Clifford G. Holderness

Clifford G. Holderness

Boston College - Department of Finance

Jeffrey Pontiff

Boston College - Department of Finance

Date Written: January 9, 2012

Abstract

Using a comprehensive database of American prisoners of war (POWs) during World War II, we find that survival from captivity generally declines as the hierarchy of a prisoner’s group becomes steeper or more closely matches the military’s established hierarchy. There is no evidence that survival is enhanced by being held in more hierarchical groups. One interpretation of these findings which is consistent with survivors’ accounts is that the military’s hierarchy was too inflexible to adapt from the battlefield to captivity and this inflexibility impeded trading among the prisoners.

Keywords: Hierarchy, centralization, decentralization, markets

JEL Classification: D23, L22, G30

Suggested Citation

Holderness, Clifford G. and Pontiff, Jeffrey, Hierarchies and the Survival of POWs during WWII (January 9, 2012). Management Science, Forthcoming. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=1345420 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.1345420

Clifford G. Holderness

Boston College - Department of Finance ( email )

Carroll School of Management
140 Commonwealth Avenue
Chestnut Hill, MA 02467-3808
United States
617-552-2768 (Phone)
617-277-8071 (Fax)

Jeffrey Pontiff (Contact Author)

Boston College - Department of Finance ( email )

Carroll School of Management
140 Commonwealth Avenue
Chestnut Hill, MA 02467-3808
United States

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