Harvard. Reading list and final exam for course "Conflict, Coalition and Strategy". Schelling, 1970 - Economics in the Rear-View Mirror


There are undergraduate courses, and then there are great undergraduate courses. Today we have the 49 item course bibliography for Thomas C. Schelling’s “Conflict, Coalition and Strategy” along with its ten-page final examination. This material comes to Economics in the Rear-view Mirror from one of the students who took that course, then Harvard undergraduate, Robert Dohner. I am  generally not jealous of Bob’s Harvard undergraduate education, but I’ll admit there are a good half-dozen economics and politics courses in my own Yale training that I would have gladly traded for that single Schelling semester in 1970. You can all thank Bob Dohner for sharing this memory!

The teaching assistant for the course, James T. Campen, was born 1943. He received an A.B. from Harvard in 1965, M.A. at St. John’s College, University of Cambridge in 1971 and Ph.D. from Harvard in 1976. Campen was active early on in the Union for Radical Political Economics and was on the faculty of the University of Massachusetts at Boston from 1977 where he worked up into his emeritus years.


Economics 1030 “Conflict, Coalition and Strategy” Prof. Thomas C. Schelling Mr. James T. Campen

Fall 1970

(*Contained in Coop package)

Introduction (13 pages)

  1. *Schelling, T. C., “Strategic Analysis and Social Problems,” Social Problems, Vol. 12 (Spring 1965), pp. 367-379.

I. Personal Incentives and Social Organization (56 pages)

  1. Hardin, Garrett, “The Tragedy of the Commons,” Science, Vol. 162, No. 3859, pp. 1243-1248.
  2. Olson, Mancur, Jr., The Logic of Collective Action (Harvard University Press, 1965), pp. 1-3,9-16, 53-57,86-87, 132-141.
  3. Luce, R. Duncan and Howard Raiffa, Games and Decisions (John Wiley & Sons, Inc., 1957), Chapter 5.4, “An Example: The Prisoner’s Dilemma,” and Chapter 5.5, “Temporal Repetition of the Prisoner’s Dilemma,” pp. 94-102.
  4. Demsetz, Harold, “Toward a Theory of Property Rights,” Papers and Proceedings of the American Economic Association, American Economic Review, Vol. 57 (May 1967), pp. 347-359.

II. Rules, Restraints, and Conventions (296 pages)

  1. Schelling, T. C., “Some Thoughts on the Relevance of Game Theory to the Analysis of Ethical Systems,” in Ira R. Buchler and Hugo G. Nutini (eds.), Game Theory in the Behavioral Sciences (University of Pittsburgh Press, 1969), pp. 45-60.
  2. Lorenz, Konrad, On Aggression (Harcourt, Brace & World, Inc., 1966), pp. 68-84, 109-138. NOTE: Different pages in Bantam paperback, pp. 64-80, 104-132.
  3. Piaget, Jean, The Moral Judgment of the Child (The Free Press, 1965, and Collier Books, 1962, same translator and identical pagination in both versions), pp. 65-76, 94-100, 139-174, 197-232. NOTE: Hardcover editions dated 1932 and 1948 have these pages instead: pp. 56-69, 89-95, 135-171, 195-231. To check: the first selection begins, “Consciousness of Rules: II Third Stage.”
  4. Jervis, Robert, The Logic of Images in International Relations (Princeton University Press, 1970), pp. 18, 90-110, 147-152, 197-205, 216-223.
  5. Schelling, T. C., The Strategy of Conflict (Harvard University Press, 1963), Chapter 3, pp. 53-80, and Chapter 4, pp. 89-108.
  6. Lewis, David K., Convention: A Philosophical Study (Harvard University Press, 1969), pp. 5-8, 36-51, 83-107, 118-121.

III. Contests and Disputes (123 pages)

  1. Moore, Omar K. and Alan R. Anderson, “Puzzles, Games, and Social Interaction,” in David Braybooke, Philosophical Problems of the Social Sciences (The Macmillan Company, 1965), pp. 68-79.
  2. Langholm, Sivert, “Violent Conflict Resolution and the Loser’s Reaction,” Journal of Peace Research, 1965-4, pp. 324-347.
  3. Galtung, Johan, “Institutionalized Conflict Resolution,” Journal of Peace Research, 1965-4, pp. 348-383.
  4. Goffman, Erving, Interaction Ritual (Anchor Books, 1967), pp. 239-270, “Where the Action Is.”
  5. Skolnick, Jerome H., “Social Control in the Adversary System,” The Journal of Conflict Resolution, Vol. XI, No. 1 (March 1967), pp. 52-70.

IV. Formal Processes of Collective Decision (133 pages)

  1. *Steinhaus, Hugo, “The Problem of Fair Division,” Econometrica, Vol. 16 (January 1948), pp. 101-104.
  2. *Farquharson, Robin, “Sincerity and Strategy in Voting,” mimeograph, February 5, 1955, 7 pages.
  3. Schelling, T. C., “What Is Game Theory?” in James C. Charlesworth (ed.), Contemporary Political Analysis (The Free Press, 1967), pp. 212-238.
  4. Buchanan, James M. and Gordon Tulloch, The Calculus of Consent (The University of Michigan Press, 1962), pp. 43-62, 131-145, 249-262.
  5. *Schelling, T. C., “Voting Schemes and Fair Division,” multilith, September 1970.
    [Handwritten note: 23 10th line 12th 1.27 s.b. 1.55. A gets 295 instead of 241. B gets 85]
  6. Leiserson, Michael, “Game Theory and the Study of Coalition Behavior,” in Sven Groennings, E. W. Kelley, and Michael Leiserson (eds.), The Study of Coalition Behavior (Holt, Reinhardt and Winston, 1970), pp. 255-272.
  7. Farquharson, Robin, Theory of Voting (Yale University Press, 1969), Appendix 3, pp. 77-80.

V. Individual and Collective Bargaining (266 pages)

  1. Schelling, T. C., The Strategy of Conflict (Harvard University Press, 1963), Chapter 2, pp. 21-52, and Chapter 5, pp. 119-161.

[Handwritten note: Hour Exam]

  1. Fisher, Roger, International Conflict for Beginners (Harper & Rowe, 1969), Chapter 3, “Making Threats Is Not Enough,” pp. 27-59.
  2. Walton, R. E. and R. B. McKersie, Behavioral Theory of Labor Negotiations (McGraw-Hill, 1965), pp. 4-6, 67-125, 310-340.
  3. Ross, H. Laurence, Settled Out of Court (Aldine, 1970), Chapter IV, “Negotiation.” NOTE: Pending appearance of book, mimeograph copy on reserve, entitled “Negotiation.”
  4. *Schelling, T. C., “Communication, Bargaining and Negotiation,” Arms Control and National Security, Vol. 1 (1969), pp. 69-71.
  5. *Rapoport, Anatol and Melvin Guyer, “Taxonomy of 2 x 2 Games,” Papers, Vol. 6, 1966, Peace Research Society (International), pp. 11-26.

VI. Violence and Nonviolence (191 pages)

  1. Sibley, Mulford Q., The Quiet Battle (Anchor Books, Doubleday & Company, Inc., 1963), pp. 9-10, 55-66.
  2. Hubbard, Howard, “Five Long, Hot Summers and How They Grew,The Public Interest, No. 12 (Summer 1968), pp. 3-24.
  3. Nieburg, H. L., “Violence, Law and the Informal Polity,” Journal of Conflict Resolution, Vol. 13, No. 2 (June 1969), pp. 192-209.
  4. Schelling, T. C., Arms and Influence (Yale University Press, 1966), pp. 1-18, 92-105, 116-125.
  5. Roberts, Adam (Ed.), Civilian Resistance as a National Defense (Stackpole Books, 1968), or The Strategy of Civilian Defense (Faber & Faber Ltd., 1967) (the two versions are identical), pp. 9-13, 87-105, 205-211, 302-308.
  6. Walter, Charles W., “Interposition: The Strategy and Its Uses,” Naval War College Review, Vol. XXII, No. 10 (June 1970), pp. 72-84.
  7. Nozick, Robert, “Coercion,” in Sydney Morgenbesser, Patrick Suppes and Morton White (eds.), Philosophy, Science and Method (St. Martin’s Press, 1969), pp. 440-472.
  8. Shure, Gerald H., Robert J. Meeker and Earle A. Hansford, “The Effectiveness of Pacifist Strategies in Bargaining Games,” The Journal of Conflict Resolution, Vol. IX, No. 1 (March 1965), pp. 106-117.

VII. Interactive Models: Large Groups (89 pages)

  1. Penrose, L S., On the Objective Study of Crowd Behavior (H. K. Lewis & Company, Ltd., 1952), Chapter 6, “Panic Reactions,” pp. 28-35.
  2. Boulding, Kenneth E., Conflict and Defense (Harper & Brothers, 1962), Chapter 6, “The Group as a Party to Conflict: The Ecological Model,” pp. 105-122.
  3. Schelling, T. C., “Neighborhood Tipping,” Harvard Institute of Economic Research, Discussion Paper No. 100, December 1969.
  4. *Schelling, T. C., “Models of Segregation,” The American Economic Review, Vol. LIX, No. 2 (May 1969), pp. 488-493.

VIII. Interactive Models: Two Parties (145 pages)

  1. Boulding, Kenneth E., Conflict and Defense (Harper & Brothers, 1962), Chapter 2, “The Dynamics of Conflict: Richardson Process Models,” pp. 19-40.
  2. Goffman, Erving, Interaction Ritual (Anchor Books, 1967), pp. 97-112, “Embarrassment and Social Organization.”
  3. *Valavanis, Stefan, “The Resolution of Conflict When Utilities Interact,” Journal of Conflict Resolution, Vol. 2 (June 1958), pp. 156-169.
  4. Schelling, T. C., The Strategy of Conflict (Harvard University Press, 1963), Chapter 9, pp. 207-229.
  5. Boulding, Kenneth E., Conflict and Defense (Harper & Brothers, 1962), Chapter 12, “International Conflict: The Basic Model,” and Chapter 13, “International Conflict: Modifications,” pp. 227-273.
  6. Schelling, T. C., “War Without Pain, and Other Models,” World Politics, Vol. 15, No. 3 (April 1963), pp. 465-487.

IX. Randomized Decision (55 pages)

  1. *Schelling, T. C., “Zero-Sum Games,” multilith, September 1970.
  2. Schelling, T. C., The Strategy of Conflict (Harvard University Press, 1963), pp. 175-190, 201-203.

Total pages: 1,367

Reading period: To be assigned later [see question 6 in final examination below]

Economics 1030 Final Exam

January 22, 1971

There are altogether six questions. The sixth contain several alternatives, according to your choice of reading-period assignment. You are not to answer any five questions out of the six. You may not choose more than one among the alternate forms of question six. Specifically, you may answer the first five questions; you may instead answer any four among the first five and one of the alternates in question 6.

The five questions you answer will be given equal weight and are intended to require about equal time.

  1. Each of the terms, concepts or principles listed on the next page is to be identified by reference to a matrix. Several matrices are provided and are adequate, but you may prefer to construct your own. (There may be more than one matrix shown that illustrates a particular concept; some of the matrices shown may illustrate several concepts. You need not make reference to more than one–your own, or one of those shown.)
    In some cases–marked by an asterisk–you need only identify an appropriate matrix; if, for example, one of the terms were “prisoners’ dilemma,” it would be sufficient to indicate Matrix #1. In other cases–where there is no asterisk–you will have to state clearly just what it is about the indicated matrix that exemplifies the concept; for example, if “promise” were one of the terms listed, you could state that in Matrix #1, if Column had first move, Row could promise first row on condition Column choose column 1, improving the expected outcome from payoffs of 1 apiece to 2 apiece in the upper left cell.

Here are the items to be identified:

    1. warning
    2. inducing move
    3. altruist’s dilemma*
    4. zero-difference game*
    5. Pareto equilibrium
    6. convention*
    7. randomized commitment
    8. dominated strategy
    9. threat-vulnerable equilibrium
    10. social contract*
    11. [a first] alternative concepts of “arms agreement”
    12. [a second] alternative concept of “arms agreement”
    13. Insurance as a bargaining advantage or disadvantage

*  *  *  *  *  *  *  *  *  *  *

  1. Explain the concept of interposition (Charles Walters, “Interposition: The Strategy and Its Uses”), and compare it with non-violent intervention (Gene Sharp, “The Technique of Non–Violent Action,” or Howard Hubbard, “Five Long Hot Summers and How They Grew”), then examine the strategic similarities and differences between (a) naval-force interposition and (b) tactics used to blockade, occupy or immobilize a campus building.

*  *  *  *  *  *  *  *  *  *  *

  1. John Stuart Mill argued that even

…if it may possibly be doubted whether a noble character is always the happier for its nobleness, there can be no doubt that it makes other people happier, and that the world in general is immensely a gainer by it. Utilitarianism, therefore, could only attain its end by the general cultivation of nobleness of character, even if each individual were only benefited by the nobleness of others, and his own, so far as happiness is concerned, were the sheer deduction from the benefit.

Assuming that the hypothesis which Mill discusses is true (that nobleness in itself detracts from individual happiness), under what conditions would you expect individuals to choose to develop noble characters? Discuss with reference to readings and lectures concerning interplay of individual incentives, social organization and moral codes.

*  *  *  *  *  *  *  *  *  *  *

  1. One of the questions on a makeup examination which you will take tomorrow will be based on either an article by Smith or an article by Jones. Your limited time in the library’s rules make it impossible for you to study both articles. If the exam question is based on the Smith article, you will have a 90 percent chance of answering it correctly if you read Smith, but will surely fail to answer correctly if you read Jones; if the exam question is based on Jones, you will have a 60 percent chance of getting it right if you study Jones, no chance otherwise. You will get the question either right or wrong; no partial credit will be given.
    You want to use your study time to maximize the probability of answering the question correctly. Your examiner will choose the exam question in such a way as to minimize the same probability. Both you and she know all of the information in this paragraph, and both of you are familiar with the basic theory of two-person zero-sum games.


    1. Draw a payoff matrix to illustrate the situation, letting your payoffs be represented by the probability of getting the correct answer.
    2. What will be your strategy in this situation?
    3. What will be the teacher’s strategy be?
    4. If you use the strategy which you indicated in A2, what is the probability that you will get a correct answer?


You suddenly recognize that the librarian whom you will be asking for one of the articles is also your teacher’s secretary, and knows which article the question will be based on.

    1. If you could get the secretary to tell you truthfully which article you should read, what would be your probability of getting the correct answer be? (That is, you are to estimate this probability before asking for the article, on the assumption that the librarian will know the answer and answer truthfully.)
    2. If you felt that the librarian/secretary would answer your question truthfully six chances out of 10 but there was a 40 percent chance the examiner would be told that you tried to cheat, resulting in your receiving an automatic zero on this question (but with no other negative consequences), would asking the library and increase your overall probability of getting credit for the question?


If you knew (and the teacher knew that you knew) that the teacher believed that you would have .7 chance of answering either question, given that you studied the right article, but you alone knew that the chances were 90 percent and 60 percent for the two articles as mentioned above:

    1. What would your strategy be?
    2. What would be your probability of getting the question right?


Now consider the situation where you might be able to get the question correct even if you chose the wrong article. The chances of this are 1/5 if the question is based on Smith and 2/5 if the question is based on Jones. (Both you and the teacher correctly understand the situation.)

    1. What is your strategy in this case?
    2. What is the teacher’s strategy?
    3. What are your chances for getting the correct answer?


Consider the same problem as in Part D with one change: you and the teacher both know that he wants you to do as well as possible on the exam.

    1. What is your strategy?
    2. What is the teacher’s strategy?
    3. What is your probability of getting the correct answer?

*  *  *  *  *  *  *  *  *  *  *

  1. You are one of two students in a small class who have arranged to write a paper in lieu of a final exam. You are certain that the grade your paper receives will depend not only on how much time you spend on it but also on how much time the other student spends on his. Even if the examiner tries to judge your paper on its merits alone he will be unconsciously influenced by how it compares with the other student’s paper.

You estimate…

    1. …that you will lose about 3 grade points on other exams for every 10 hours you spend on this paper;
    2. …that your grade on this paper will be:
      1. 5, 9, 12, 14 or 15 points according as you spend 10, 20, 30, 40 or 50 hours on it,
      2. plus 3, 5 or 6 points if you spend 10, 20 or 30 hours more than your rival, and minus 3, 5 or 6 points if you spend 10, 20 or 30 hours less than your rival.

When you plot a smooth graph of your overall grade, taking all three factors into account–quality of your paper, quality of the competing paper, time taken away from your other courses–you get the following “contours” of your overall net score as a function of the time you both devote to your papers.

The graph is interpreted this way. If you work 30 hours and he does nothing, you get a net score of 9 (i.e., a gross score of 12 for your paper on its merits, plus 6 for superiority, less 9 for the 30 hours taken from other courses). If you both work 30 hours you get 3 (the same 12 on your own paper, less 9 on other courses, and did nothing for superiority). If you work 20 hours and he works 10, you get 6. Every point on the graph denotes a combination of your work time and his; every point has an associated net score for you; points of equal score can be connected by “contour lines” is in the graph. (The dotted lines at 45 degrees represents equal time for the two of you.)

You are quite sure that your rival, whoever he is, has a nearly identical graph when he considers his own grade in relation to the time you both spend on your papers.

  1. Draw your “reaction curve” (otherwise called in Boulding, “partial-equilibrium curve” or “reaction function”), and explain what it means.
  2. Drawing on your knowledge that your rival reaches identical estimates with respect to his own grades, draw his reaction curve.
  3. Locate and characterize any equilibria that occur.
  4. Discuss the likely amounts of work the two of you will do on each of the following alternative assumptions:
    1. Each of you can see the other work–in the library, for example–and can keep count of each other’s time, but you are unacquainted and not permitted to consult each other.
    2. You have no idea who the other student is and no way to monitor the amount of work he does, nor does he know who you are.
    3. You do not know who he is, but are sure that he can recognize you and watches you work in the library, keeping track of how much work you do.
    4. You are well enough acquainted to get together and talk the situation over, reaching an understanding about how much work you intend to do, perhaps reaching a bargain on restraining your competition; but you are not close enough friends to be unselfish toward each other and furthermore you do not know how badly each other may need grade points.

*  *  *  *  *  *  *  *  *  *  *

  1. This question is based on the reading period assignment. If you chose one of the following four books answer Part A:

Edward C. Banfield, The Moral Basis of a Backward Society
J. H. Dales, Pollution, Property and Prices
H. L. Nieburg, Political Violence: The Behavioral Process
Carl M. Stevens, Strategy and Collective Bargaining Negotiation

If you chose James M. Buchanan and Gordon Tullock, The Calculus of Consent, answer Part B.

If you chose Erving Goffman, Interaction Ritual, answer Part C.

If you chose Robert Jervis, The Logic of Images in International Relations, answer Part D.

If you chose Mancur Olson, Jr., The Logic of Collective Action, answer Part E.

  1. Identify one or more major themes or propositions in the book which you chose is the reading period assignment. Discuss what you consider to be the most more interesting and/or important ways that these themes illuminate the body of Economics 1030 and are in turn illuminated by it. Be specific.
  2. Buchanan and Tullock
    1. Using their concept of “cost,” explain the roles ascribed by the authors to unanimity rule, majority rule, and any other competing alternatives rules.
    2. On what conditions, if any, or with what reservations, would you accept their point of view?
  3. Goffman

Goffman’s book contains the word, “ritual,” in its title, and every chapter involves some analysis of ritual in phase-to-face behavior even though the chapters were originally independent essays. Explain what “ritual” means in this context and identify its role in the following topics of Economics 1030:

      1. Personal incentives and social organization
      2. Rules, restraints and conventions
      3. Contests and disputes
      4. Formal processes of collective decision
      5. Individual and collective bargaining
  1. Jervis
    Define signals and indices, then illustrate the manipulation of indices, and the veracity and ambiguity of signals, by reference to any one of the following sources of signals and indices, which you should examine in some detail:
    1. An advertising campaign
    2. A student’s essay on a final examination
    3. The public relations involved in the year-long process of selecting a Harvard president
  2. Olson Most of Olson’s book is devoted to an analysis of the behavior of large groups. How important is group size? In what ways does the behavior of small groups differ systematically from that of larger ones? What are the most important reasons for this?

    With reference to college courses, speculate briefly on the location and significance of the boundary between “small” and “large.”

Source: Personal copy of course syllabus and final examination shared for transcription at Economics in the Rear-View Mirror by Robert Dohner (Harvard, 1974; M.I.T., 1980).

Image Source: From Schelling testifying before a Senate subcommittee on naitonal security in 1966New York Times, Dec. 13, 2016.