Elite Persistence, Power Struggles, and Coalition Dynamics

39 Pages Posted: 5 Jul 2023

See all articles by Xinyu Fan

Xinyu Fan

Cheung Kong Graduate School of Business

Date Written: September 1, 2019


We study why a ruling minority (the elite) inevitably emerges from power struggles. Power struggles are modeled as iterative coalition formations where players use their power to form alliances and eliminate others without formal commitment. We show that when players can strategically relinquish power, i.e., burn power, it allows a vested interested group to commit to a smaller ruling circle, but also enables outsiders to preemptively cede power to deter regime changes. This ensures the survival of the weak at the cost of power centralization. The elite persist after power perturbations if their commitment to the ruling circle remains intact. The persistence is softened when the weak is productive, when there are external threats, but, surprisingly, not when there are external arbitrators.

Keywords: Power Struggles, Power Relinquishment, Coalition Formation, Elite Persistence

JEL Classification: D72, D74, O43, P41

Suggested Citation

Fan, Xinyu, Elite Persistence, Power Struggles, and Coalition Dynamics (September 1, 2019). Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=4497191 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.4497191

Xinyu Fan (Contact Author)

Cheung Kong Graduate School of Business

E3, Oriental Plaza
1 East Chang An Ave
Beijing, Beijing 100006

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