Disclaimer. Don't rely on these old notes in lieu of reading the literature, but they can jog your memory. As a grad student long ago, my peers and I collaborated to write and exchange summaries of political science research. I posted them to a wiki-style website. "Wikisum" is now dead but archived here. I cannot vouch for these notes' accuracy, nor can I even say who wrote them. If you have more recent summaries to add to this collection, send them my way I guess. Sorry for the ads; they cover the costs of keeping this online.
Copeland. 2000. The origins of major war. Ithaca: Cornell University Press.
I've got a nice PDF summary of this.
Copeland begins with a critique of three historical realist theories: classical realism, neorealism (Waltz), and hegemonic stability theory. He presents his new theory: dynamic differentials theory. This theory looks at how changing relative capabilities (i.e. "dynamic differentials") in military, economic, and potential power affect the probability of war. It's largely a revision of hegemonic stability theory.
THE VARIABLES AND PREDICTIONS:
Y = probability of war
Intervening variable: the state's selection of a policy response along the hard-line/soft-line spectrum.
X = Three variables about "dynamic differentials," three variables about the effects of any given policy.
The five possible policy responses along the hard-line/soft-line continuum (from hard to soft): (1) initiate war, (2) initiate a crisis, (3) deterrence/containment, (4) do nothing, (5) reassurance/accomodation.
X1, X2, X3: The three "dynamic differentials" variables:
X4, X5, X6: The three parameters that affect how a state responds to these three "dynamic differentials":
Assumption: The declining state's objective is to "pick the option that maximizes the state's security, that is, the option which, all things considered, leads to the highest expected probability of survival (EPS) over the foreseeable future."
Main prediction: "All things being equal, the more severe a state's decline will be in the absence of strong action [X2, X3, X4], the more severe its actions are likely to be, that is, the more risks of inadvertent spiraling [X5] it will be willing to accept."
Two primary hypotheses:
FIVE PATHS TO WAR
TEST CASE (and inspiration for the theory): WWI. Germany took a series of deliberate steps to provoke a crisis that would lead to war with Russia (a rising power) and make it look like Russia's fault.
Research on similar subjects