Sergei Guriev & Daniel Treisman: "Incompetent leaders can survive by manipulating the information environment so long as economic shocks are not too large"

posted 31 Dec 2015, 01:39 by Rights in Russia   [ updated 31 Dec 2015, 01:49 ]
"The totalitarian tyrants of the past used mass violence, ideological indoctrination, and closed borders to monopolize power. In a world of economic interdependence and modern communications technology, many authoritarian leaders choose a different strategy—that of manipulating information to convince the public that they are doing a good job. We model the tradeoffs this generates, as dictators choose from a repertoire of techniques, and citizens exploit the signals inherent in the dictator’s actions to infer his type. We show that, in this setup, incompetent leaders can survive by manipulating the information environment so long as economic shocks are not too large. In such equilibria, no violent repression—or at most a very little—is needed. Over time, an incompetent leader who survives may acquire a reputation for competence by virtue of rational Bayesian updating on the part of the public. Major economic downturns destroy such equilibria, exposing the leader’s incompetence, and generating protests that can only be suppressed by force."

        - Sergei Guriev, Professor of Economics, Sciences Po, Paris, and Research Fellow, CEPR, & Daniel Treisman, Professor of Political Science, UCLA, and Research Associate, NBER. 

Source: Sergei Guriev, Daniel Treisman, 'How Modern Dictators Survive: An Informational Theory of the New Authoritarianism,' LSE, July 2015
Comments