Science of partnership

We are beginning to fund lab experiments at the Leadership, Institutions, Mindsets and Behaviors (LIMB) Lab at the University of Florida.


Mark Gerzon, Leading Through Conflict: How Successful Leaders Transform Differences into Opportunities

Mark Gerzon, The Reunited States of America: How We Can Bridge the Partisan Divide

David Heenan and Warren Bennis, Co-Leadership: the Power of Great Partnerships.

Our contributions so far

Here are a few of our articles on challenges to win-win politics, and ways to overcome them:

1. Trust in the Executive: Requiring Consensus and Turn-Taking in the Experimental Lab.
Authors: T. Clark Durant, Michael Weintraub, Dan Houser, Shuwen Li.
Publication: Journal of Peace Research (forthcoming).

Abstract. Why is it so hard to get opposing elites to work together rather than to seek partisan gains and/or political survival? While the credible commitment problem is widely known, there are a number of lesser known obstacles to building trust and trustworthiness between opposing elites. This article presents an account of how some of those obstacles interact through time. Common institutional types, particularly winner-take-all and power-sharing institutions, force trade-offs between agile responses in the short term and medium term trust between elites, on the one hand, and between trust among elites in the medium term and the adaptability of agreements in the long term, on the other. We call this the ‘time horizon trilemma.’ As an alternative approach, we consider a variant on the two-person consulate used by the Roman Republic for more than 400 years as Rome rose to prominence. In our variant, a ‘turn-taking institution,’ opposing executives take short alternating turns as the ultimate decision-maker within one term. We conduct behavioral games in the experimental lab to provide an initial estimate of the impact of these institutional types – winner-take-all, requiring consensus only, requiring turn-taking only, or requiring both – on overcoming obstacles to agile responses in the short term, trust among elites in the medium term, and adaptability of agreements in the long term. We find that turn-taking is a promising alternative to solving the time horizon trilemma.

2. How to Make Democracy Self-Enforcing After Civil War: Enabling Credible Yet Adaptable Elite Pacts
Authors: T. Clark Durant, Michael Weintraub
Publication: Conflict Management and Peace Science (Volume 31, Number 5, 2014).

Abstract. While many recommend electoral democracy as a way to avoid or resolve civil conflict, the empirical record of electoral democracy as an alternative to civil conflict is decidedly mixed. We apply recent work from new organizational economics on the nature of elite pacts to add to both sides of the debate. On the one hand, we argue that we should be more pessimistic about the ability of existing electoral institutions to help rather than hurt the prospects for a stable peace. We argue that the new organizational economics reveals a design dilemma — a forced trade-off between the credible commitment to an elite pact in the short term and the adaptability of an elite pact in the long term — that plagues the most commonly considered alternatives. On the other hand, we tentatively argue for optimism if institutional designers work with criteria that explicitly take the dilemma into account. We propose novel design criteria that would allow a polity to address the design dilemma.

3. An Institutional Remedy for Ethnic Patronage Politics
Authors: T. Clark Durant, Michael Weintraub
Publication: Journal of Theoretical Politics (Volume 26, Number 1, 2014).

Abstract. When the difference between winning and losing elections is large, elites have incentives to use ethnicity to control access to spoils, mobilizing some citizens and excluding others. This paper presents a new electoral mechanism, the turn-taking institution, that could move states away from ethnically-mediated patron-client politics. With this mechanism, the whole term goes to a sufficiently inclusive super-majority coalition; if no coalition qualifies, major coalitions take short, alternating turns several times before the next election. A decision-theoretic model shows how the turn-taking institution would make it easier for mass-level actors to coordinate on socially productive policy and policy-making processes. We argue this institution would raise the price elites would pay to deploy and enforce exclusive ethnic markers.

4. Altruism, Righteousness, and Myopia
Authors: T. Clark Durant, Michael Weintraub
Publication: Critical Review (Volume 23, Issue 3, 2011).

Abstract. Twenty years ago Leif Lewin made the case that altruistic motives are more common than selfish motives among voters, politicians, and bureaucrats. We propose that motives and beliefs emerge as reactions to immediate feedback from technical-causal, material-economic, and moral-social aspects of the political task environment. In the absence of certain kinds of technical-causal and material-economic feedback, moral- social feedback leads individuals to the altruism Lewin documents, but also to righteousness (moralized regard for the in-group and disregard for the out-group) and myopia (disregard for distant consequences). The mix of altruism, righteousness, and myopia increases the focus on winning the next high-stakes election rather than on discovering or enforcing socially productive institutions.