Jack Paine  •  Political Science  •  Emory University  •  jackpaine@emory.edu

Authoritarian Power Sharing

​​All dictators confront threats to their survival in office. One strategy to mitigate threats is to share power with challengers. For example, a ruler can offer positions in the cabinet or legislature to co-opt members of mass societal opposition organizations or of different ethnic groups. Sharing power enhances the ruler’s commitment to promises. However, by bringing challengers closer to the center of power and bolstering their coercive capability, sharing power creates a threat-enhancing effect. High-ranking elites can exercise their ability to stage a coup to remove the leader, rather than using this leverage as a latent threat to prevent the ruler from transgressing on promised spoils. The dual consequences of power sharing are foundational for understanding authoritarian politics and regime survival. I develop the theoretical mechanisms across several applied game theory articles, and I also provide evidence from post-colonial Africa and historical Europe. A longer overview of the project is available here.


Reframing the Guardianship Dilemma: How the Military’s Dual Disloyalty Options Imperil Dictators
American Political Science Review, 2022, 116(4): 1425–1442.    JOURNAL LINK   •   APPENDIX    •   REPLICATION DATA

Power Sharing and Authoritarian Stability: How Rebel Regimes Solve the Guardianship Dilemma
(with Anne MengAmerican Political Science Review, 2022, 116(4): 1208–1225​.   


A Theory of External Wars and European Parliaments 
Forthcoming at International Organization (with Brenton Kenkel)

Strategic Power Sharing: Commitment, Capability, and Authoritarian Survival
Journal of Politics, 2022, 84(2): 1226–1232.     JOURNAL LINK    •   NON-TECHNICAL SUMMARY    •   APPENDIX

The Dictator's Power-Sharing Dilemma: Countering Dual Outsider Threats​
American Journal of Political Science, 2021, 65(2): 510–527.     

Ethnic Violence in Africa: Destructive Legacies of Pre-Colonial States
International Organization, 2019, 73(3): 645–683.     

In progress

Authoritarian Power Sharing: Concepts, Mechanisms, and Strategies
(with Anne Meng and Robert Powell

Accepted at the Annual Review of Political Science

Stronger Challengers can Cause More (or Less) Conflict and Institutional Reform  

(with Andrew Little) R&R at Comparative Political Studies