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Unpublished Paper
Is Reform Inevitable In Iran? An Evolutionary Analysis
VMI Economics Working Paper Series (2011)
  • Atin Basu Choudhary, Virginia Military Institute
  • Laura Razzolini, Virginia Commonwealth University
  • Dixon Josh, Virginia Military Institute

A persistent, if somewhat violent, reformist movement in Iran has many observers believing that reform is inevitable in Iran. We suggest that such optimism is misplaced. We use an evolutionary game theory approach to a standard assurance game to show that even when the gains to reform are obvious, the reformists may not succeed. We show further that as long as hardliners hold the levers of government they can stymie the success of reformists. Thus, from a policy perspective we believe that a gradual evolutionary path to reformist success is plausible but it depends crucially on the initial proportion of reformists in the country as well as the level of control hardliners have in expropriating the gains to reform for themselves. In this context, as the costs of coordination fall through the use of social media for example, peaceful change is possible. By the same token, a repressive government can block peaceful revolution through the manipulation of social media.

  • Iran,
  • Egypt,
  • Coordination,
  • Peaceful revolutions,
  • Violent revolution
Publication Date
January 31, 2011
Citation Information
Atin Basu Choudhary, Laura Razzolini and Dixon Josh. "Is Reform Inevitable In Iran? An Evolutionary Analysis" VMI Economics Working Paper Series (2011)
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