Building Reputation: Why Governments Fight Some Separatists but Not Others

Building Reputation: Why Governments Fight Some
Separatists but Not Others
Barbara F. Walter                University of California, San Diego

      This article attempts to show that future players and future stakes—two factors generally ignored by political scientists—
      strongly influence government decisions to cooperate or fight at least against ethnic minorities seeking self-determination.
      Data on all separatist movements between 1956 and 2002 reveals that governments are significantly less likely to accommodate
      one challenge if the number of ethnic groups in a country and the combined value of the land that may come under dispute
      in the future is high. Governments that refused to accommodate one challenger were also significantly less likely to face
      a second or third challenge down the road. This provides some of the first systematic evidence that governments invest in
      reputation building a least in the domain of domestic ethnic relations.

S      elf-determination movements are the most fre-
       quent source of violent conflict in the international
       system today (Marshall and Gurr 2003). Between
1956 and 2002, 146 ethnic groups in 78 countries de-
                                                                         capabilities of the disputants (Bartkus 1999; Diehl 1999;
                                                                         Goertz and Diehl 1992; Huth 1996; Toft 2003). According
                                                                         to this view, governments are more likely to fight for terri-
                                                                         tory that is economically, strategically, or psychologically
manded greater territorial autonomy or independence                      valuable, and give up territory that is not. They are also
from their central government. In the vast majority of                   more likely to fight if the risks and costs of confronting a
these cases the government responded by refusing to com-                 particular opponent are low. The nature of the immediate
promise on any issue related to territory, even if they faced            stakes and the relative capabilities of the disputants, there-
armed rebellion as a result. Governments in Russia, Iran,                fore, determine how a government is likely to respond.
and Myanmar for example, have fought lengthy and costly                       Building on work by Walter (2003), I argue that gov-
wars rather than offer a compromise settlement to the                    ernments are much more forward-looking than current
Chechens, Kurds, or Karens. And in Indonesia, the chief                  theories allow. Governments weigh their immediate inter-
of the armed forces, General Sutarto, has promised to                    ests and capabilities when determining whether to grant
fight rebels in Aceh until his troops’ “last drop of blood”              concessions, but they also carefully calculate the effect this
(New York Times 5/5/03, 6). The fact that governments are                behavior may have on future challenges and future losses.
so unyielding toward separatists, however, does not mean                 If a government believes it could face multiple additional
that peaceful accommodation never occurs. Leaders in                     challenges over numerous pieces of territory, it has greater
Canada, India, and the former Czechoslovakia have all of-                incentives to invest in building a reputation for toughness
fered varying degrees of sovereignty to ethnic minorities                than if it knew it would face only one challenge, or rel-
within their borders. This variation is puzzling and raises              atively few challenges. The risks and costs of future con-
the following question. Why are governments sometimes                    frontations, therefore, should factor into a government’s
willing to accommodate ethnic minorities seeking greater                 decision to compromise or fight at least in cases where
self-rule, and other times not?                                          it expects a series of similar challengers making similar
     The two explanations frequently offered to explain                  demands over time.
why governments make concessions in some cases but                            What follows is divided into four sections. The
not others focus on the value of the stakes or the relative              first section walks the reader through the logic of this

Barbara F. Walter is associate professor of international relations and Pacific studies, Mail Code 0519, University of California, San Diego,
La Jolla, CA 92093 (
I am grateful to Rui de Figueiredo Jr., Hein Goemans, Zoltan Hajnal, Andrew Kydd, Bob Powell, Kenneth Schultz, and participants at
seminars at Yale, Columbia, University of Southern California, Dartmouth, and UCSD for very helpful comments and suggestions. This
project was funded through the generous support of the National Science Foundation Award #0351670.
American Journal of Political Science, Vol. 50, No. 2, April 2006, Pp. 313–330

C 2006,   Midwest Political Science Association                                                                             ISSN 0092-5853

314                                                                                                                     BARBARA F. WALTER

reputation building argument, and presents two hypothe-                 some territorial concessions. If the government chooses
ses for testing. The theory I am presenting is not new. In              to fight, it has a chance to maintain full control over its
fact, it builds directly on the well-known chain store para-            territory but it pays the costs of fighting.2
dox first described in the economics literature by Selten                     When governments face only one challenger the logic
(1978) and then modified by Kreps and Wilson (1982),                    of how to respond is fairly straightforward. Since there
and Milgrom and Roberts (1982). What is new is that it                  is little value in developing a reputation for toughness
applies this theory to a particularly pressing problem in               and paying the costs of war, governments have strong in-
political science and finds that it explains a lot about gov-           centives to accommodate this challenger. The situation is
ernment behavior at least towards minority ethnic groups                more complicated, however, when a government believes
seeking self-determination. The second section presents                 it could face a series of potential challengers over time. Un-
two alternative explanations for government behavior—                   der these conditions, a government has to consider that
that governments care more about their present inter-                   the game could be repeated as many times as there are
ests and capabilities than they do about future challenges.             separatist groups and that the government’s behavior in
The third section tests the competing theories against a                the first period could affect decisions by other separatists
dataset of all self-determination movements initiated be-               later on.
tween 1956 and 2002 and discusses the findings. The re-                       Subsequent groups, for their part, do not know what
sults show that governments are significantly more likely               type of government they face. They could face a govern-
to fight against a particular separatist group if the num-              ment that is conciliatory and thus willing to part with
ber of future challengers and the potential long-term losses            some territory in return for domestic peace, as the Swiss
from future challenges are high. By contrast, almost none               were willing to do with the canton of Jura in 1979. Or they
of the factors associated with the present value of the land,           could face a government that is more extreme—unwilling
or the present capabilities of the disputants had any affect            to compromise at any cost—as the Indonesian govern-
on government behavior. The final section discusses the                 ment was with East Timor under President Suharto. This
implications this research may have for our understand-                 uncertainty fundamentally affects the game.3 Potential
ing of conflict and cooperation more generally, as well as              challengers must decide whether to challenge based largely
the ongoing debate on reputation building.                              on a government’s past behavior. 4 If the government they
                                                                        face has been resolute and unaccommodating in the past,
                                                                        potential challengers can expect the government to fight
                                                                        if they choose to challenge. If, on the other hand, the
      The Logic of Reputation Building                                  government has granted concessions in return for peace,
      The Importance of Future Challengers                              they know they face a conciliatory government and the
              and Future Stakes                                         incentives to challenge go up. This means that concilia-
                                                                        tory governments have strong incentives to strategically
This article demonstrates that it may be rational to go                 misrepresent their willingness to fight in order to deter
to war if doing so allows governments to build a reputa-                these additional challenges and avoid the higher cumula-
tion that will deter additional challengers in the future.1             tive costs of future disputes. This reasoning gives us our
The mechanism I’m looking at is private information and                 first hypothesis for testing. A government’s decision to ac-
the incentives governments have to misrepresent this in-                commodate demands for self-determination will be nega-
formation when many future rivals exist, and the argu-                  tively related to the number of challengers it expects to face
ment goes as follows. Assume that a country contains only               in the future.
one minority group and that this group has to decide
whether to challenge the government for greater auton-
omy. If the group challenges, the government then has to                2
                                                                            “Fighting” denotes anything from repression to outright war.
decide whether to accommodate these demands or fight. If
the government accommodates, it gets peace in return for                 If the parties were operating under complete information, the sep-
                                                                        aratists would always challenge an uncommitted government and
1                                                                       an uncommitted government would always accommodate. Sepa-
  This argument is derived from work on entry-deterrence and ad-        ratists would also always refuse to challenge a committed govern-
vertising in the economics literature. See especially Spence (1973),    ment. The result in all cases would be peace.
Schmalensee (1981, 1983), Rosenthal (1981), Kreps and Wilson
(1982), Milgrom and Roberts (1982), Dixit (1982), and Kennan              This account considers only one of the many factors that potential
and Wilson (1993). There is also a long literature on reputation        separatist groups consider before deciding whether to challenge.
and deterrence in political science. See especially Schelling (1966),   For a more complete account of the logic driving ethnic groups
Alt, Calvert, and Humes (1988), Huth (1988), Nalebuff (1991),           to rebel, see Gurr (1970), Tilly (1987), Smith (2001), Fearon and
Hopf (1994), Mercer (1996), Huth (1997), and Toft (2001, 2003).         Laitin (2003), and Walter (2006).
BUILDING REPUTATION                                                                                                                      315

     The number of potential challengers, however, should                strong symbolic or psychological value if it contains sites,
not be the only factor affecting government decisions to                 landmarks, and buildings that form the basis of a coun-
accommodate or fight. The logic of the reputation the-                   try’s identity or represent a country’s historical homeland
ory implies that a government will not only care about                   (Coakley 1993; Newman 1999; and Toft 2003). Theories
the number of additional challengers, but also about the                 that focus on the interests at stake, therefore, offer three
cumulative value of land that may come under dispute                     additional hypotheses for testing. The higher the economic
in the future, and the relative strength of these addi-                  value of the disputed territory, the less likely a government is
tional groups.5 Deterrence makes no sense if a govern-                   to accommodate a challenge. The higher the strategic value
ment does not wish to retain the citizens who may seek                   of the disputed land, the less likely a government is to ac-
self-determination or the land they may seek to acquire.                 commodate. And the greater the psychological value of the
The decision to accommodate one challenger, therefore,                   land, the less likely accommodation.
should also be strongly influenced by the combined value                      The value of the land currently under dispute, how-
of the stakes a government believes it may lose in the fu-               ever, may not be the only factor affecting government
ture. This modification yields a second hypothesis for test-             responses to territorial challenges. Recent work by Press
ing. A government’s decision to grant territorial autonomy               (2005) on interstate crises has argued that the prevailing
or independence will be inversely related to the cumulative              balance of power should be more important than repu-
value of all the land within its borders that could come under           tation in how governments respond to challenges. If this
dispute.                                                                 argument were applied to self-determination disputes, it
                                                                         would mean that governments with greater capabilities
                                                                         relative to a separatist group should be less likely to make
                                                                         concessions regardless of what they may expect to hap-
              Existing Explanations                                      pen in the future. One final hypothesis, therefore, can be
        The Importance of Present Stakes                                 drawn from theories that focus on relative capabilities.7
            and Present Capabilities                                     The stronger the government and the weaker the challenger,
                                                                         the less likely a government is to accommodate.
Most work on territorial disputes points to the economic,
strategic, or psychological value of land to explain why
governments choose to part with some pieces of land but
not others.6 Disputed territory, for example, could con-                                   Research Design
tain oil, minerals, or agriculturally rich regions that are
important revenue sources for the central government. It                 My first goal is to establish whether governments are at
could include strategic features that are crucial for main-              all concerned about future challengers and the value of
taining the security of the state, such as mountain ranges,              future lands when deciding to make concessions, or if
seacoasts, or other geographic features (Holsti 1991;                    they are really more interested in current interests and
Luard 1986; Mackinder 1919; Richardson 1960; Touval                      capabilities. To determine this, I collected data on every
1972; Vanzo 1999). A piece of territory could also have                  self-determination movement included in the Center of
                                                                         International Development and Conflict Management’s
  The logic of the reputation model also implies that governments        (CIDCM) data on self-determination movements, phase
should care about the relative strength of future challengers when       II.8 Nonviolent challenges, as well as violent challenges,
determining how to respond to a given challenge. A government that
expects to face a series of weak opponents should be less concerned      were included in the dataset in order to avoid selecting
about building reputation than a government that expects to face a
series of more powerful and costly opponents. This prediction was
impossible to test given data limitations and will have to be left to      Realists have long argued that the military balance of power be-
future research to answer. Recent work by Triesman (2004), how-          tween combatants is likely to determine whether combatants choose
ever, has argued that governments with limited resources (weak           a violent or peaceful means to resolve their differences. A sample
governments) may have strong incentives to appease early chal-           of work in the realist tradition includes Morgenthau (1978), Waltz
lengers in order to conserve sufficient resources to deter others.       (1979), and Grieco (1988).
This supports the notion that the relative strength of all challengers   8
a government believes it may encounter factors into reputation             CIDCM defines a self-determination movement as any attempt
building calculations.                                                   launched by a territorially concentrated ethnic group for autonomy
                                                                         or independence from the central government using political or
  Gilpin (1981), Holsti (1991), Goertz and Diehl (1992), Coakely         military means and includes all movements initiated between 1956
(1993), and Diehl (1996) have all argued that interests are a pre-       and 2000. Readers should note that CIDCM codes only those ethnic
dominant factor in territorial disputes between states. While each of    groups listed in the Minorities at Risk dataset and thus may exclude
these works has focused on interstate conflicts, the same arguments      some ethnic groups in some countries. For greater elaboration of
are often heard to explain territorial disputes within states.           the coding rules see Marshall and Gurr (2003).
316                                                                                                                       BARBARA F. WALTER

only those cases where the government and the ethnic                         In order to further assess this potential bias, I com-
group failed to resolve their dispute without first engag-               pared challengers in the current dataset to all nonchalleng-
ing in armed conflict. This avoids biasing the results in                ing ethnic groups listed in the MAR dataset (221 ethnic
favor of only the most difficult cases to resolve.9 Each                 groups). I found that challengers were more concentrated
self-determination movement represents one case in the                   geographically, had resided in the region longer, had more
analysis.                                                                autonomy to begin with, and lived in areas with slightly
     The study is limited to cases where self-determination              higher economic value than nonchallengers. There were,
movements have been launched and does not extend to                      however, no differences between challengers and nonchal-
ethnic minorities that have not chosen to activate simi-                 lengers on any of the measures related to the reputation
lar demands. This decision was made for theoretical and                  model. Thus, while estimates of the effects of land value
empirical reasons. Theoretically, there is reason to believe             and relative capabilities could be biased by selecting only
that the decision to formally seek self-determination is                 challengers, this selection should have less effect on as-
quite different from demands made in the normal give                     sessments of the reputation model.
and take of domestic politics. Governments, therefore,
are likely to respond differently to a formal challenge than
to the frequent lobbying on the part of internal interest
                                                                                        The Dependent Variables
groups for larger slices of the political, social, or economic           Two dependent variables are included in this study. First,
pie. This appears to be confirmed in empirical studies of                to determine which factors are likely to affect government
ethnic mobilization. Research by Gurr and Moore (1997),                  accommodation, I created an ordered categorical depen-
Cetinyan (2002), and Fearon and Laitin (2003) have found                 dent variable called Accommodation, which included four
that factors such as past repression, demographic distress,              outcomes: no accommodation; some accommodation but
a country’s per capita GDP, a prior history of rebellion,                not over territory (hereafter referred to as “reform”); ac-
and state weakness appear to affect the decision by ethnic               commodation offering some form of territorial auton-
groups to formally rebel against the government. Each of                 omy; and accommodation granting full independence.11
these factors is in large part unrelated to and very differ-             Each self-determination movement was coded with the
ent from the factors that lead groups to compete in the                  highest level of accommodation ever offered by the gov-
domestic political arena.10                                              ernment. Of the 146 self-determination challenges in-
     Still, readers should be aware of a potential draw-                 cluded in the dataset, 86 (59%) were not granted any ac-
back of limiting the study in this way. It is possible that              commodation. Of the 60 groups that were granted some
excluding cases where groups never articulated demands                   accommodation, 30% obtained reform, 63% were given
for self-determination systematically biases the types of                some form of territorial autonomy, and less than 1%
cases included in the study. Exceptionally weak groups,                  were granted full independence. Summary statistics are
for example, might never make any demands on a govern-                   included in the appendix.
ment, and exceptionally strong governments might never                        Second, to see if government behavior had the de-
hear of them. Conversely, especially weak governments                    sired effect of deterring additional challengers, I created
might give in before any formal demands are made, and                    a second dependent variable called Subsequent Challenge
extremely strong groups might obtain concessions with-                   which was coded based on the number of subsequent self-
out making a formal request. If this is true, then at least              determination challenges a government faced after the
some of the causal factors associated with a group’s deci-               self-determination movement under observation. Details
sion to seek self-determination are also associated with a               about the coding of each of these variables is included in
government’s response, which may bias the estimates in                   the appendix.
the current analysis.

                                                                                      The Independent Variables
 In addition, to ensure that no single country (or a small num-
ber of countries) with many potential challengers was driving the        The first set of explanatory variables was drawn from
results, I sequentially deleted countries from the analysis. In alter-   existing accounts that cite the economic, strategic, and
nate analysis, standard errors for potential nonindependence within
countries were corrected using the cluster option in Stata. Neither      11
test revealed any substantive effects on the results.                       Although these four categories are clearly distinct on a theoretical
                                                                         level, I reran all of the subsequent analysis with one or more cat-
   Importantly, none of the empirical or theoretical research looking    egories of accommodation collapsed to ensure that each category
at group-level mobilization cites the number of other potential          was in fact empirically distinct. The results indicate that none of
groups in a country or the net value of their land as relevant to        the alternate codings led to a significantly better fit than the four
decisions about group mobilization and group tactics.                    category variables used here.
BUILDING REPUTATION                                                                                                                        317

psychological value of the land under dispute as the crit-               ration of a challenge. A government with more soldiers
ical factors influencing government behavior. The main                   under arms throughout a dispute was assumed to be less
variable, Economic Value, was measured using an addi-                    willing to accommodate separatists than one with fewer
tive 31-point scale indicating how many marketable re-                   soldiers. In alternate tests, I substituted a measure of the
sources were known to exist on a given piece of land.                    average annual military expenditures of the government
This 31-point scale was derived from the combined num-                   as a percent of the average GNP of a country during the
ber of resources listed on both U.S. Geological Survey                   duration of a challenge.14 Countries with relatively small
and CIA maps.12 Strategic Value was measured using a                     defense expenditures were expected to be more likely to
6-point additive scale indicating whether a given piece of               accommodate challengers than countries with large de-
territory included: (1) a sea outlet, (2) a shipping lane,               fense expenditures.15 The second measure, government
(3) a military base, (4) an international border, (5) an at-             instability, was a dummy variable indicating whether a
tack route, and/or (6) a mountain range.13 Psychological                 country in question experienced rapid regime change at
or symbolic value was measured using two crude prox-                     any point during the duration of a challenge.16 Govern-
ies. The first, Length of Residence, was the length of time              ments experiencing rapid regime change were expected to
the challenging group had resided on a piece of territory.               be weak relative to those that had not. Finally, a measure of
A government’s attachment to a piece of land may de-                     average gross domestic product per capita over the course
crease the longer a minority group resides on a piece of                 of a dispute was also tested in alternate specifications.
territory. The second, Autonomy, was a dummy variable                         Four indicators were used to measure the strength
indicating whether the group in question had been his-                   of the separatist group. The first—neighboring eth-
torically autonomous from the central government at any                  nic groups—indicates whether the group seeking self-
point prior to the conflict. Governments were expected to                determination was part of a larger ethnic group that
be less psychologically attached to territory that had once              extended beyond that country’s borders. All else equal,
been under another group’s control.                                      groups with ethnic brethren in neighboring states were
     Two additional measures were included to help assess                viewed as relatively more powerful than groups with no
current interests. The challenging group’s population as                 such outside support (see especially Cetinyan 2002; Saide-
a proportion of the national population, Proportion of                   man 1997). The second measure focused on group con-
Population, was included in the main model to take into                  centration. Groups that were more highly concentrated
account the value of group size to the government. In                    geographically were assumed to be better able to over-
alternate specifications I also included the amount of land              come difficult collective action problems and mobilize
occupied by the group as a proportion of a country’s total               more effective resistance against the government (Toft
land mass (Proportion of Territory).                                     2001, 2003). The third measure indicated whether a coun-
     The second set of hypotheses focused on the relative                try contained mountainous terrain, which was assumed
capabilities of both the government and the current chal-                to be advantageous to the rebel side (Fearon and Laitin
lenger. Since measures for the military strength of individ-             2003). The last measure was the presence of a diaspora
ual groups in society are generally not available, I assessed            community in the United States. Ethnic groups with a
Relative Capabilities by examining several different indi-               large proportion of co-ethnics living in the United States
cators of strength on each side. Two main indicators were
used to measure the strength of the targeted government.                 14
                                                                            Neither military personnel nor expenditures is a perfectly reliable
The first was the average number of military personnel                   measure of government strength. Weak governments, for example,
as a proportion of the total population during the du-                   may feel particularly insecure and invest in large armies as a result.
                                                                         A large number of soldiers and a large military budget, therefore,
                                                                         would better measure state weakness than strength. It is also possi-
12                                                                       ble that a spurious relationship exists between large militaries and
  While a dollar value might have been preferable, regional esti-        government accommodation if hardline governments (ones that
mates of the monetary value of different resources are rarely avail-     do not to accommodate) also choose to have a bigger military, but
able and thus could not be included. In an attempt to include a          the decision to accommodate and to have a large army are unre-
measure that might more closely approximate the monetary value           lated. Readers should be aware of the crudeness of this measure,
of the resources, in alternate tests I included a dummy variable indi-   but should also realize that it is the best we have to date.
cating whether a given region included either oil or natural gas. To
assess the relative value of the land compared to rest of the country,     I also looked at arms imports as a possible measure of govern-
in alternate specifications I also included a measure of the propor-     ment strength, but problems with missing data and concerns about
tion of total resources a piece of land contained. The substantive       accurate reporting led me to exclude this measure from the final
findings did not change with this latter measure.                        analysis. It was not, however, significantly related to government
13                                                                       accommodation in any test that was undertaken.
   In alternate tests I substituted a dummy variable indicating
whether a given territory had access to the sea—arguably the most         Countries that experienced a change of three or more points in
important strategic resource. The change had no effect on the            any year on Polity IV’s combined measure of democracy/autocracy
results.                                                                 were coded 1. All others were coded 0.
318                                                                                                                          BARBARA F. WALTER

were assumed to have access to more remittance money                        counts only those groups that were systematically dis-
than those that did not (Collier and Hoeffler 2001).                        criminated against, and/or mobilized in defense of their
     By contrast, the reputation model argued that the de-                  interests and thus may better identify those groups most
cision to accommodate would be less focused on the land                     likely to capture the government’s attention as a poten-
currently under dispute and the relative capabilities of                    tial future threat.20 The second measure, the number of
the current combatants, and more on future challengers                      Concentrated Groups, includes only those ethnopolitical
and expected future costs. Hypothesis one predicted that                    groups that are geographically concentrated in a single
the greater the number of potential separatist challengers,                 region. Both measures are taken from the Minorities at
the less willing a government would be to accommo-                          Risk (MAR) data project.
date a given challenge. Governments would look down                               The reputation model also predicted that the decision
the road, determine how many groups could potentially                       to accommodate one challenger would also be strongly
make demands and respond accordingly.17 Three proxies                       influenced by the combined value of the land future chal-
were used to measure the number of potential separatist                     lengers might demand. To assess the combined value of
challengers. The first was a measure of the total num-                      land, the previous measures of economic, strategic, and
ber of ethnic groups in each country as identified by the                   psychological value were once again used, only this time
Encyclopedia Britannica. This measure included all eth-                     the measures incorporated the value of all land occupied
nic, linguistic, or religious groups, as well as all foreign                by all ethnopolitical groups in a given country.21 Finally,
national groups in each country.18                                          as a measure of the potential human costs of future chal-
     Since all groups are not equally likely to seek self-                  lengers, the Combined Population of all disaffected groups
determination and since governments are likely to be par-                   in the country as a proportion of the total population was
ticularly attentive to those parties that are most likely to                also included in the analysis.22
challenge, I included two more nuanced measures of po-                            Two additional variables have been linked to govern-
tential separatists. The first is a measure of the number of                ment behavior and are included as controls. A range of
Ethnopolitical Groups in a given country.19 This measure                    studies has demonstrated that regime type affects var-
                                                                            ious decisions to fight or cooperate. Although to date
17                                                                          no relationship has been found between democracy and
  This hypothesis assumes that governments can determine who
the future challengers are likely to be, the extent of their claims, and    the decision by groups to rebel (at least independent
the resources they are likely to have at their disposal. Although the       of income), there is reason to believe that regime type
government can never know exactly how many groups will seek self-           might be important in the ways in which governments
determination, or the exact future value of territory, governments
are likely to have some knowledge about potential troublemakers.            respond to minority demands for self-determination.23
Since governments generally control a confined geographical area,           Democratic governments are likely to be more sensitive to
with a relatively fixed population, assessing potential challengers
should not be too difficult. By examining several different estimates       20
                                                                              To test for the possibility that the relationship between govern-
of the number of potential separatist challengers, I hope to show           ment concessions and the number of potential challengers is non-
that governments can and do distinguish between different groups            linear, various nonlinear models and thresholds were tested but
to identify the most likely challengers.                                    all provided a significantly worse or at best similar fit to the lin-
   The advantage of using a measure that includes all ethnic groups         ear model presented here. It did not appear that there was a critical
regardless of their level of mobilization or grievance is that it ensures   threshold beyond which increasing the number of groups no longer
that any relationship found between government accommodation                affected government actions. Nor did it seem that the impact of
and the number of groups is not a function of government be-                the additional potential challengers decreased as the total number
havior itself. This is less the case when a measure of concentrated         increased.
or ethnopolitical groups from the MAR dataset is used. Govern-              21
                                                                             Note that data were collected on each ethnopolitical group and not
ments that are unwilling to accommodate or cooperate with any               on each ethnic group. This decision was made because subnational
group under any conditions may, by their very behavior, increase            data on ethnic groups are generally not available, while similar data
the number of mobilized or dissatisfied groups in their country.            on ethnopolitical groups are.
This would make it appear as if a higher number of ethnopolitical
groups caused governments to refuse accommodation when in fact                 In alternate tests, I included a measure of the proportion of the
causation was reversed.                                                     total land occupied by ethnopolitical groups who could challenge
19                                                                          the government. Since this measure was highly correlated with the
   Note that this measure, as coded by the Minorities at Risk (MAR)         Combined Population measure, it was dropped from the final model.
dataset, is not trouble free. Laitin and Fearon (2001), for exam-           These alternate tests suggest, however, that Combined Land (like
ple, point out that MAR was not systematic in its sample selection          combined population) may be related to government accommoda-
procedure. Many African countries with large numbers of ethnic              tion. Further tests need to be undertaken to clarify this relationship.
groups, for example, are only coded for one or two groups in MAR,
while other more well-known countries are coded for significantly              Studies by Muller and Weede (1990), Hegre et al. (2001), Fearon
more. Still, this measure should give a rough estimate of whether           and Laitin (2003), and Walter (2006), however, have all found a
the number of aggrieved groups in a country is more likely to affect        significant relationship between anocracies and the outbreak of
government behavior than simply the number of ethnic groups.                civil conflict.
BUILDING REPUTATION                                                                                                                     319

the rights of individuals seeking self-determination and                 of self-determination challenges, governments are influ-
have a greater range of possible compromise solutions                    enced more by the risks and costs of future challenges
to offer these groups than nondemocracies (Doyle 1986;                   than by the costs of current ones.
Goemans 2000; Morgan and Campbell 1991). A variable,                          Reputation-building is not just a significant factor
Democracy, was therefore included to take into account                   in government decision making, it is also a substantively
this potential effect.24 I also included measures of federal-            important one. Converting the ordered probit coefficients
ism, proportional representation, and anocracy in alter-                 in Table 1 into predicted probabilities reveals that expec-
nate tests to determine which aspect of democracy may                    tations about what might happen in the future greatly
more heavily influence a government’s decision to make                   affects government behavior.27 Governments in coun-
concessions. Finally, a measure of the Duration of a con-                tries with a relatively large number of ethnic groups (11)
flict was also included since it is possible that longer dis-            are 30% more likely to refuse any form of accommoda-
putes are more costly to governments and therefore more                  tion than those that faced a relatively small number of
likely to end in some form of accommodation.25                           groups (3). A large number of ethnic groups also sig-
      Finally, it is worth noting that in alternate analy-               nificantly reduced the odds of a government offering
sis, I included dummy variables for different regions of                 reform or territorial autonomy. Governments facing a
the world to ensure that none of the significant variables               high number of ethnic groups were 6% less likely to of-
were proxying for some unmeasured region-specific fac-                   fer reform and 24% less likely to offer some form of
tor. None of the region dummies were significant and their               increased territorial autonomy than those facing a low
inclusion or exclusion did not affect the overall conclu-                number. 28
sions. The exact measurement and coding of all of these                       The combined strategic value of the land had an even
variables, as well as details on data sources, are available             larger substantive effect on government behavior. When
in the appendix.                                                         the strategic value of all future lands was high, govern-
                                                                         ments were 72% more likely to refuse any form of ac-
                                                                         commodation than if the combined value was low. Sim-
                                                                         ilarly, when the combined proportion of the population
          Results and Interpretation                                     in these areas included the entire population of the coun-
                                                                         try, governments were 59% more likely not to accom-
The results of the ordered probit regression with Ac-                    modate than if potential challengers represented only a
commodation as the dependent variable are presented in                   tiny fraction of the population.29 Taken together, these
Table 1. What you see in the first column is that three of               three factors (the number of ethnic groups, combined
the factors associated with the reputation theory are sig-               strategic value, and the size of future populations) greatly
nificantly related to government accommodation while                     determined government actions. Governments that pre-
none of the factors associated with present interests or                 side over countries with many ethnic groups that occupy
capabilities are similarly important. In line with the repu-             particularly strategic land and represent a large propor-
tation model, the greater the number of ethnic groups in a               tion of the population are 94% less likely to accommodate
country, the greater the combined strategic value of future              any group of separatists than are governments that pre-
lands, and the greater the potential future loss of popula-              side over fewer ethnic groups that control less valuable
tion the less likely a government is to accommodate any
given challenge.26 This strongly suggests that in the case               of interstate territorial conflicts, Huth (1996) also found a pos-
                                                                         itive although insignificant relationship between economic stakes
24                                                                       and compromise settlement. He hypothesized that this was because
  To measure democracy, I used the average level of democracy            economic resources can be divided more easily, leading to a higher
during a conflict as indicated by the Polity IV data set. In alternate   number of settlements.
tests I also used the highest level of democracy attained during
the dispute—assuming that governments would be most likely to               In each case, predicted probabilities are calculated by varying
accommodate at this point. Both measures led to similar results.         the measure of interest from the 10th to the 90th percentile, while
25                                                                       holding all other variables at their mean values (or modal values
  A dummy variable indicating whether the conflict was violent           for categorical variables). See King, Tomz, and Wittenberg (1999).
was also included to see if the use of force by a separatist group
increased the likelihood that a government would accommodate                Bivariate results confirm this relationship. Overall, 40% of the
their demands. It was insignificant in all specifications and was        governments in countries with fewer than three ethnic groups of-
dropped from the final model.                                            fered territorial accommodation, while only 10% of the government
26                                                                       in countries with more than eight ethnic groups did so.
   Note that future economic value was neither significant (even
when all other measure of future value are dropped) nor signed              In some countries such as Yugoslavia or Iraq all ethnic groups
in the direction predicted by the reputation theory. In his study        express grievances and are, therefore, potential challengers.
320                                                                                                                    BARBARA F. WALTER

TABLE 1 Ordered Probit Analysis of Factors Affecting Government Responses to
        Self-Determination Demands
                                                                                     Level of Government Accommodation

                                                                                                 Concentrated                Disaffected
                                                                          All Groups               Groups                     Groups
  Number of Potential Future Challengers
    Number of Ethnic Groups                                               −.102 (.046)∗
    Number of Concentrated Groups                                                                 −.265(.090)∗∗
    Number of Disaffected Groups                                                                                          −.268(.075)∗∗
  Value of All Land Occupied by Potential Challengers
    Combined Economic Value                                                .046 (.031)             .080 (.034)∗            .060 (.032)∧
    Combined Strategic Value                                              −.313 (.136)∗           −.360 (.142)∗∗          −.252 (.143)∧
    Combined Psychological Value                                           .277 (.239)             .341 (.243)             .370 (.263)
    Proportion of Population (All Groups)                                −2.03 (1.03)∗           −1.41 (1.01)            −1.49 (1.10)
  Economic Value
  Strategic Value                                                         −.036 (.085)            −.103 (.091)            −.101 (.092)
  Psychological Value:                                                     .049 (.194)             .091 (.195)             .038 (.194)
     Length of Residence                                                   .015 (.408)            −.056 (.419)            −.044 (.458)
     History of Autonomy                                                  −.392 (.296)            −.544 (.306)∧           −.575 (.315)∧
  Proportion of Population (Current Group)                                1.37 (2.03)              .483 (2.01)            −.303 (2.10)
  Government Military Personnel                                         −13.6 (28.6)              5.28 (27.32)            9.36 (28.9)
  Government Instability                                                   .408 (.358)             .516 (.354)             .362 (.382)
  Group Concentration                                                      .023 (.209)             .167 (.221)             .066 (.212)
  Neighboring Ethnic Groups                                              −.144 (.136)             −.233 (.143)            −.301 (.150)∗
 Average Level of Democracy                                                 .105 (.027)∗∗           .099 (.027)∗∗           .097 (.028)∗∗
 Duration of Conflict                                                       .002 (.009)             .006 (.009)             .007 (.009)
Constant 1                                                               −1.37 (1.40)            −1.31 (1.43)            −1.99 (1.59)
Constant 2                                                                −.860 (1.40)            −.764 (1.43)           −1.42 (1.59)
Constant 3                                                                1.38 (1.41)             1.66 (1.45)              .970 (1.58)
Pseudo R2                                                                  .253                    .280                    .309
2                                                                       45.4∗∗                  50.14∗∗                  55.44∗∗
N                                                                        86                      86                       86
    p < .10, ∗ p < .05, ∗∗ p < .01

land, and represent only a small proportion of a country’s                more or less likely to accommodate demands for self-
population.30                                                             determination if the land in question has high economic
     In sharp contrast, none of the factors related to                    value or is strategically important.32 Table 1 also indicates
the land presently under dispute are significantly related                that the psychological value of a given piece of land, at
to government accommodation.31 Governments are no
 Note that data on the size of ethnic groups may also be used to          measures related to the value of the land currently under dispute
measure the strength of these groups.                                     approached significance.
31                                                                        32
   Even if all of the measures of the combined value of land occupied        Logged measures of economic and strategic value were both not
by ethnopolitical groups is dropped from the model, none of the           significant when introduced into the model.
BUILDING REPUTATION                                                                                                                    321

least as measured by available indicators, does not appear              ments appear to consistently factor in the value of future
to play any role in a government’s decision to compro-                  stakes as well as the number and strength of future players
mise. Again, readers should be somewhat careful about                   when determining how to respond to a given challenge.
interpreting these results. The logic of the reputation ar-             Present stakes and power may still matter, but various
gument implies that governments should not ignore the                   features associated with future confrontations appear to
present value of stakes, only that they should assess the               matter even more.
value of present stakes compared to future stakes. Govern-                   One factor outside of reputation also affected gov-
ments, therefore, should be willing to fight for particularly           ernment behavior. More democratic regimes were sig-
important pieces of land, such as those that contain large              nificantly more likely to accommodate separatist de-
oil reserves, even if there are few reputational gains to be            mands than less democratic regimes. In fact, convert-
made for doing so. When more nuanced measures of eco-                   ing the ordered probit coefficients into predicted prob-
nomic value are included in the analysis (results presented             abilities revealed that highly democratic regimes were
in Table 2), the significance of present value becomes more             61% less likely than highly autocratic regimes to refuse
apparent.                                                               to agree to some type of accommodation. Democracies
     Finally, there is no significant relationship between              were also more willing to offer both reform and in-
any of the measures of relative strength during the pe-                 creased territorial autonomy when confronted with de-
riod of conflict and the level of accommodation in that                 mands for self-determination. There are a number of pos-
conflict.33 Balance of capabilities arguments predict that              sible explanations for this, to be examined later in the
stronger governments will be less willing to accommodate                article.
challengers than weaker governments. Yet neither military
size nor government instability had a significant influence
on government decisions to accommodate. Governments                                             Robustness
with small militaries or those that experienced rapid in-
stitutional change were no more likely to accommodate                   In testing the reputation model, I attempted to include as
than those that maintained a relatively large number of                 many valid measures of alternative explanations as pos-
soldiers under arms or were institutionally stable. Finally,            sible but the inclusion of all of these variables in the re-
the strength of the challenger group also appears to be un-             gression in Table 1 could be misleading if collinearity is
related to how a government behaves. Governments were                   a problem. To address this potential issue, I repeated the
no more or less likely to accommodate separatist groups                 analysis in Table 1 with a range of different specifications.
that extended into neighboring states or were highly con-               In a series of tests, I repeated the regression dropping all
centrated in a particular region. 34                                    of the measures associated with the reputation model, in-
     The fact that so many measures of future challengers               cluding only one measure for each underlying construct
and stakes are significant suggests that previous studies               (e.g., including only economic value and dropping other
have overlooked an important strategic element in gov-                  measures of land value), and dropping all insignificant
ernment decisions to fight or accommodate. Although                     measures. The substantive conclusions were the same.
these results should be considered with some caution due                Bivariate correlations also demonstrate very similar pat-
both to the imprecise nature of the indicators and the                  terns to those illustrated in Table 1.35
potential bias inherent in selecting only cases where a for-                 Since there is also some concern that looking only at
mal challenge has occurred, they are still striking. Govern-            groups that have actively challenged a government might
                                                                        lead to bias, I repeated the analysis in Table 1 including all
   Goertz and Diehl (1992) had a similar finding on their work on       ethnic groups included in the Minorities at Risk (MAR)
interstate territorial disputes. They found no strong relationship      dataset—not just those that actively challenged the gov-
between the balance of military capabilities and the use of armed       ernment.36 The results confirm the central role that repu-
force in achieving territorial changes from 1914 to 1980. However,
in separate studies, Mandel (1980); and Kacowicz (1994) found
that armed conflict over territory was more likely between states         The only signs of collinearity are between combined economic
of roughly equal military capabilities. For a discussion of these       value and combined strategic value. The two measures are corre-
differences see Huth (1996, 13–14).                                     lated at .77 and when combined strategic value is dropped the coef-
34                                                                      ficient on combined economic value becomes positive and almost
   This mirrored two of the findings in Huth’s 1996 study of inter-     significant suggesting once again that future stakes weigh heavily
state territorial disputes. He found that the presence of minority      on government decision makers.
groups along the border with ethnic ties to the general popula-
tion of the challenger had no strong effect on the likelihood of a         Due to data limitations, the regression model for this alternate
compromise settlement. He also found that military strength of the      test only included the number of ethnic groups and not the com-
challenger was not a necessary condition for the challenger “to re-     bined population size or the combined strategic, economic, and
main unyielding in its negotiating position” over disputed territory.   psychological value of land occupied by potential challengers.
322                                                                                                    BARBARA F. WALTER

TABLE 2 Ordered Probit Analysis of Factors Affecting Government Responses to
        Self-Determination Demands
                                                                          Level of Government Accommodation

                                                                Model 1               Model 2                  Model 3
  Number of Potential Future Challengers
    Number of Ethnic Groups                                   −.083 (.046)∧         −.087 (.052)∧          −.095 (.046)∗
  Value of All Land Occupied by Potential Challengers
    Combined Economic Value                                    .030 (.030)          .028 (.027)            .049 (.034)
    Combined Strategic Value                                  −.301 (.138)∗        −.295 (.146)∗          −.276 (.148)∧
    Combined Psychological Value                               .364 (.249)          .420 (.268)            .116 (.255)
    Proportion of Population (All Groups)                    −1.383 (.940)        −2.92 (1.23)∗          −2.37 (.996)∗
  Economic Value
  Presence of Oil/Gas Reserves                                 .032 (.086)                                 −.038 (.096)
  Strategic Value                                                                   −.970 (.420)∗
  Psychological Value:                                         .093 (.191)           .050 (.218)            .018 (.198)
     Length of Residence                                      −.084 (.403)           .052 (.428)           −.028 (.501)
     History of Autonomy                                      −.606 (.317)∧         −.533 (.332)           −.123 (.438)
  Proportion of Population (Current Group)                     .147 (1.99)          3.382 (2.37)            .958 (1.95)
  Government Military Personnel (Per Capita)                 −8.05 (28.87)       −10.13 (34.60)
  Government Military Expenditure (Per Capita)                                                           −1.20 (2.32)
  Government Instability                                                              .651 (.425)
  Average GDP                                                                                            −2.16 (3.33)
  Mountainous Terrain                                                                                     −.150 (.165)
  Group Concentration                                          .124 (.209)          −.046 (.272)           .026 (.214)
  Neighboring Ethnic Groups                                   −.072 (.133)          −.121 (.147)          −.147 (.143)
 Average Level of Democracy                                                           .094 (.031)∗∗          .088 (.029)∗∗
 Proportional Representation System                            .627 (.387)
 State Centralization//Federalism                              .422 (.248)∧
 Anocracy                                                      .630 (.411)
 Duration of Conflict                                          .010 (.009)            .002 (.011)
Constant 1                                                     .370 (1.39)        −1.75 (1.46)           −2.31 (1.76)
Constant 2                                                     .797 (1.39)        −1.21 (1.45)           −1.76 (1.76)
Constant 3                                                    2.83 (1.44)          1.21 (1.48)             .434 (1.73)
Pseudo R2                                                      .202                 .280                   .254
2                                                           35.67∗∗               46.08∗∗                44.09∗∗
N                                                            86                    77                     81
    p < .10, ∗ p < .05, ∗∗ p < .01

tation plays. Even when all MAR groups are included, ac-      offered. Although it is difficult to code duration since ac-
commodation is significantly less likely in countries with    commodation can occur in different amounts at differ-
a large number of potential challengers.                      ent times, I was able to conduct analysis using the date
     Finally, I assessed an alternate model that looked at    of the last accommodation and a simple dummy vari-
the duration of time before a government accommodated         able indicating whether the government offered territo-
rather than at how much accommodation the government          rial accommodation or not. This weibull hazard model
BUILDING REPUTATION                                                                                                              323

reaffirmed the role reputation building plays in govern-                    One of the key findings to emerge out of the Ta-
ment decision making. Territorial accommodation took                   ble 1 is the significant relationship between democracy
significantly longer in cases where a government could                 and government accommodation. In all three models,
potentially face more challengers and lose more valuable               more democratic countries are significantly more likely
territory. All of these tests help to increase confidence that         to accommodate demands by separatists than less demo-
the conclusions in Table 1 are robust (analysis not shown).            cratic countries. But what is it about democracy that leads
                                                                       to accommodation? To assess the effect of different insti-
                                                                       tutional features on accommodation, model 1 in Table 2
                 Which Groups Matter                                   includes measures for Proportional Representation, Feder-
The results so far support the reputation theory but                   alism, and a dummy variable singling out Anocracies.
tell us nothing about the types of groups that are most                     The results of this more in-depth analysis of democ-
likely to threaten a government. Governments, for exam-                racy are interesting but far from conclusive. Each of the
ple, know that some ethnic groups are far more likely                  three measures is positively and significantly or nearly
to seek self-determination than others. Groups that are                significantly related to government accommodation, sug-
more geographically concentrated, are mobilized to pur-                gesting that all three factors may play a role. Governments
sue particular interests, or have grievances against the               may be more willing to accommodate demands because
state have greater motivation and opportunity to seek self-            they already have a system in place that grants regional
determination. Government behavior, therefore, should                  autonomy (e.g., federalism), because minority groups are
be more closely linked to these more threatening candi-                influential in government decisions (e.g., proportional
dates than to the larger population of ethnic groups used              representation), or because they can neither fully incorpo-
in the previous analysis.                                              rate nor fully repress groups (e.g., anocracies). However,
     I tested this proposition by substituting into the anal-          issues of collinearity make each of these conclusions ques-
ysis two different measures of the number of potential                 tionable. It is also possible that federal reforms occur after
challengers in a country.37 The second regression in Table             territorial autonomy has been granted to a group and not
1 shows the effect of the number of concentrated eth-                  the other way around. Future research will be required
nopolitical groups on government behavior, while the                   to distinguish which, if any, of these alternatives is at
third regression shows the effect of the number of eth-                play.
nopolitical groups. Not only are both significantly related                 In the second model of Table 2, I attempt to assess
to government behavior, but the predicted probabilities                more fully the role current value has on government be-
make clear that governments are particularly concerned                 havior. Since counting the number of resources contained
with these more troublesome groups. Governments in                     in region is an imprecise measure of the economic value of
countries with large numbers of concentrated groups were               the land, I substituted a measure that singled out regions
70% less likely to offer any form of accommodation than                with significant oil or gas reserves. This measure might
governments in countries with the fewest concentrated                  better assess the economic importance of a region in at
groups. Similarly, going from a country with the largest               least some countries. The results in Table 2 indicate that
number of ethnopolitical groups to one with the fewest in-             governments are, in fact, less willing to give up autonomy
creased the probability of accommodation by 77%. Each                  over a piece of land that contains either of these important
of these effects is almost twice as large as the effects we            resources.
saw when we looked at the more general measure of the                       Finally, in the third model of Table 2, I include three
number of ethnic groups. This suggests that governments                new measures of government strength not tested in Table
are particularly influenced by groups that show real signs             1. Since the number of military personnel does not always
of future action.                                                      translate into government military strength, I substituted
                                                                       a measure of annual military expenditures as a propor-
                                                                       tion of the total GDP. Model 3 also includes a measure
               Alternate Specifications                                of mountainous terrain, a geographic feature that was as-
A number of the measures included in the previous anal-                sumed to reduce a government’s ability to defeat rebel
ysis are quite rough. In what follows, I test a series of              forces. Lastly, I include a measure of the average annual
alternate measures in order to corroborate these findings              gross domestic product of the country to reflect the fact
and to delve more deeply into the exact nature of a number             that government strength is at times tied to its economic
of the relationships.                                                  resources.
                                                                            In the end none of these alternate measures of gov-
   Due to collinearity between the three measures of potential chal-   ernment capabilities is significantly related to govern-
lengers, including all three in the same model would be suspect.       ment accommodation, while the earlier findings regard-
324                                                                                                                         BARBARA F. WALTER

ing the importance of reputation building remained                                                 Conclusion
                                                                           This article attempted to show that future players and
         Does Reputation Building Work?                                    future stakes—two factors generally ignored by politi-
But does a reputation-building strategy work? If it is true                cal scientists—strongly influence government decisions
that government behavior is motivated by a desire to                       to cooperate or fight at least when self-determination
deter additional challenges, then it should also be true                   is at stake. Applying insights from the work on entry-
that refusing to accommodate one challenger has the de-                    deterrence in economics, this article argued that govern-
sired deterrent effect. If it does not, then investing in                  ments of multiethnic countries have strong incentives to
reputation would have little merit, and studies question-                  fight against early separatists in order to deter additional
ing the efficacy of reputation building would likely be                    separatists later on. Fighting a war against the first sepa-
correct.                                                                   ratist challenger is the trade-off governments consciously
     A closer look at the data suggests that a government                  make in order to influence how others are likely to play
strategy of reputation building in the face of a multieth-                 the game.
nic population is effective. Governments that refused to                         Data on all self-determination movements between
accommodate or offered only modest political reforms                       1956 and 2002 strongly supported this theory. Not only
when they were first challenged faced a subsequent chal-                   did the number of future challengers significantly affect a
lenge for self-determination only 27% of the time (15 of                   government’s decision to accommodate a challenge, but
55 cases). 38 By contrast, governments that granted terri-                 governments were more likely to invest in reputation when
torial autonomy or independence to their first challenger                  the combined value of future stakes was high. This in-
faced a subsequent challenge 59% of the time (13 of 22).                   vestment also appeared to pay off. Governments that re-
This pattern was evident in Indonesia in the aftermath of                  fused to accommodate one challenger were significantly
Habibie’s decision to grant independence to East Timor.                    less likely to face a challenge from a second or third group
In the words of an Indonesian diplomat, this decision                      down the road. It appears that governments use war not
“sparked a scramble among secessionists from Aceh and                      only to influence the behavior of one particular opponent,
to a certain extent even in Irian Jaya of wanting similar ref-             but other opponents as well.
erendums held in their provinces with similar objectives”                        Despite these strong results, this study leaves a num-
(New Straits Times Press 5/29/03, 2).                                      ber of important questions unanswered. This article, for
     Greater degrees of accommodation also appear re-                      example, says almost nothing about the strategic behav-
lated to the number of subsequent challengers. Countries                   ior of challengers. If it is true that governments make
that offered no territorial autonomy faced, on average,                    decisions based on how they believe ethnic groups will
well under one subsequent challenge (.78 challenges),                      respond, then it must also be true that ethnic groups are
whereas countries that offered territorial autonomy                        equally strategic in their behavior toward their govern-
faced, on average, slightly over one subsequent challenge                  ments. Potential separatists, for example, should wait un-
(1.05 challenges). And countries that gave their first chal-               til after they observe the government granting concessions
lenger full independence faced, on average, two addi-                      to another group before they themselves challenge.39 They
tional challenges (2.0 challenges). Preliminary multivari-                 should also coordinate their challenges with other ethnic
ate analysis presented in Table A1 in the appendix suggests                groups in order to present a unified front against the gov-
that this relationship holds even after controlling for the                ernment. A united front would reduce the incentives a
number of potential subsequent challenges, the number                      government had to invest in reputation building (there
of years since the first challenge, and the value of the land              are fewer additional challengers to deter), and make con-
other groups might claim. Although this analysis does                      ciliation more likely.40 Finally, this article says nothing
not assess the full range of motivations driving potential
challengers and more work needs to be done, these pre-                     39
                                                                              Work by Fearon (1994) gives us insight as to why some ethnic
liminary results support the idea that reputation building                 groups might choose to challenge the government before any others.
is an effective means of deterring future challenges.                      Fearon argued that ex ante observable variables should be taken
                                                                           into account by rational potential challengers in their decision to
                                                                           challenge or not. Since ethnic groups understand that governments
38                                                                         have greater incentives to fight early challengers, especially if there
   Although this was not the very first challenge that some of the gov-    are many additional challengers waiting in the wings, only the most
ernments had encountered in their history, it still represented an         resolved challengers will move early.
early challenge relative to all others included in the dataset. Ideally,
one would want to include the universe of all self-determination              Failures by potential challengers to combine their forces may be
movements that had ever been launched in a given country. Limi-            due to straightforward collective action and coordination problems,
tations on time as well as on data made this impossible.                   an argument that is developed further in Walter (2004).
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