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Reciprocity, Bullying, and International Cooperation: Time-series Analysis of the Bosnia Conflict

  • Joshua S. Goldstein (a1) and Jon C. Pevehouse (a2)


Although the role of reciprocity in international cooperation is central to neoliberal institutionalism, empirical understanding of the concept remains weak. We analyze strategic response patterns—the use of reciprocity or inverse response (bullying)—in the Bosnia conflict from 1992 to 1995. We construct weekly time series of conflict and cooperation among the parties to the Bosnia war, using machine-coded events data. Time-series statistical analysis identifies several important patterns of strategic response, both reciprocal and inverse. These include bilateral responses, which are central to the concepts of reciprocity and evolution of cooperation, and triangular responses, which are central to the debates on containment versus accommodation in regional conflicts. Specifically, Serb forces displayed inverse triangular response, cooperating toward Bosnia after being punished by NATO. Outside powers displayed triangular reciprocity, increasing hostility toward Serb forces after Serbian attacks on the Bosnian government.



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