The prince—or better no prince? The strategic value of appointing a successor

Kai A. Konrad, Vai-Lam Mui

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

7 Citations (Scopus)


Appointing a successor (the “prince”) allows the ruler (the “king”) to alter the structures of conflicts that take place between him and his potential challengers, as well as the structures of conflicts that take place among his potential challengers. Motivated by historical examples and using an infinite horizon rulership competition game, we show that while an appointed prince constitutes a powerful and dangerous threat to the incumbent ruler (the elevated threat effect), the appointed prince can also offer the incumbent ruler increased protection against other potential challengers (the barrier effect). We determine conditions when the overall effect of appointing a successor benefits the incumbent ruler and enables him to acquire a larger share of the governance rent in equilibrium.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)2158-2182
Number of pages25
JournalJournal of Conflict Resolution
Issue number10
Publication statusPublished - 1 Nov 2017


  • coup
  • governance rent
  • ruler
  • successorship regimes

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