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Corralling the Free Rider: Deterrence and the Western Alliance

Glenn Palmer
DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.2307/2600706 147-164 First published online: 1 June 1990


This paper uses the collective-goods approach to alliances to investigate how membership in the North Atlantic Treaty Organization and other American alliances affects the interaction between the United States and the other actors. The paper uses two models, differing in their assumptions about the factors involved in the calculations member states make, to derive hypotheses regarding the dynamics of intra-alliance behavior. I conclude that a “bargaining” model, which assumes that allies are concerned more with maintaining long-term mutual commitment than with maximizing short-term utility, better explains how allies act. The implications for the study of group behavior and the contributions to the understanding of alliances are discussed.

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