Leadership, Prisoners' Dilemmas, and Politics

23 Pages Posted: 26 Jun 2015

See all articles by J. R. Clark

J. R. Clark

The University of Tennessee at Chattanooga

Dwight Lee

University of Georgia - C. Herman and Mary Virginia Terry College of Business - Department of Economics

Date Written: 2005

Abstract

Prisoners’ dilemmas that exist in politics often allow leaders to benefit themselves through political actions harmful to their group’s interest. We develop a dynamic prisoners’ dilemma based on political competition, with the choices being to lobby (non cooperative choice) or not to lobby (the cooperative choice) for political privileges. Considering each interval in isolation, lobbying is the dominant choice even though the members of a group would be better off over time not lobbying regardless of what other groups do. However, it is almost always in the interest of group leaders to lobby for government benefits, and they can use prisoners’ dilemmas to “justify” that lobbying even when it is destructive to their members’ interest. We provide several examples that support the theoretical argument.

Suggested Citation

Clark, Jeff R. and Lee, Dwight, Leadership, Prisoners' Dilemmas, and Politics (2005). Cato Journal, Vol. 25, Spring/Summer 2005. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2622681

Jeff R. Clark (Contact Author)

The University of Tennessee at Chattanooga ( email )

Department of Economics
Suite 313 Fletcher Hall
Chattanooga, TN 37403-2598
United States

Dwight Lee

University of Georgia - C. Herman and Mary Virginia Terry College of Business - Department of Economics ( email )

Athens, GA 30602-6254
United States

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