On Dangerous Ground: A Theory of Bargaining, Border Settlement, and Rivalry, Toby J. Rider and Andrew P. Owsiak

Reviewed by Megan A. Stewart



Border placement is highly consequential: the borders that demarcate where nation-states begin and end determine the resources a state will have access to and, in turn, the state's power relative to other states. In On Dangerous Ground: A Theory of Bargaining, Border Settlement, and Rivalry, Toby J. Rider and Andrew P. Owsiak use quantitative analyses to investigate the origins, consequences, and conclusions of unresolved border settlements.

Rider and Owsiak organize On Dangerous Ground into three parts, with each section presenting a research question, theory, and set of empirical tests. They begin with the first research question: why are some pairs of states more easily able to resolve border placement? Rider and Owsiak start with the assumption that all states have strong incentives to agree on a border location (p. 50), such that unresolved border placements are surprising. They conceptualize the placement of borders as a bargaining process beset by information and commitment problems that complicate border settlement processes (p. 51). They also recognize that territories will contain different power endowments. Borders that cross power-endowed territory will be more challenging to resolve because each state wants that power and fears others states getting it (pp. 42–43). The authors combine these two insights to argue that con

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