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On the Competition of Asymmetric Agents

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  • Christine Harbring
  • Gabriele K. Lünser
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    Abstract

    Rank-order tournaments are usually implemented in organizations to provide incentives for eliciting employees' effort and/or to identify the agent with the higher ability, for example in promotion tournaments. We close a gap in the literature by experimentally analyzing a ceteris paribus variation of the prize spread - being the major design feature of tournaments - in a symmetric and an asymmetric setting. We find that effort significantly increases with the prize spread as predicted by standard theory. However, only for sufficiently large prize spreads weak players competing against strong players strain themselves all the more and sorting of agents is feasible. Copyright 2008 The Authors. Journal compilation Verein für Socialpolitik and Blackwell Publishing Ltd. 2008.

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    File URL: http://www.blackwell-synergy.com/doi/abs/10.1111/j.1468-0475.2008.00438.x
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    Bibliographic Info

    Article provided by Verein für Socialpolitik in its journal German Economic Review.

    Volume (Year): 9 (2008)
    Issue (Month): (08)
    Pages: 373-395

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    Handle: RePEc:bla:germec:v:9:y:2008:i::p:373-395

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    References

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    1. Christian Grund & Dirk Sliwka, 2005. "Envy and Compassion in Tournaments," Journal of Economics & Management Strategy, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 14(1), pages 187-207, 03.
    2. Ronald G. Ehrenberg & Michael L. Bognanno, 1988. "Do Tournaments Have Incentive Effects?," NBER Working Papers 2638, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    3. Christine Harbring & Bernd Irlenbusch, 2005. "Incentives in Tournaments with Endogenous Prize Selection," Journal of Institutional and Theoretical Economics (JITE), Mohr Siebeck, Tübingen, vol. 161(4), pages 636-, December.
    4. Eriksson, Tor, 1999. "Executive Compensation and Tournament Theory: Empirical Tests on Danish Data," Journal of Labor Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 17(2), pages 262-80, April.
    5. R. Cookson, 2000. "Framing Effects in Public Goods Experiments," Experimental Economics, Springer, vol. 3(1), pages 55-79, June.
    6. Harbring, Christine & Irlenbusch, Bernd, 2008. "How many winners are good to have?: On tournaments with sabotage," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 65(3-4), pages 682-702, March.
    7. Urs Fischbacher, 2007. "z-Tree: Zurich toolbox for ready-made economic experiments," Experimental Economics, Springer, vol. 10(2), pages 171-178, June.
    8. Lynch, James G., 2005. "The effort effects of prizes in the second half of tournaments," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 57(1), pages 115-129, May.
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    Cited by:
    1. Gadi Barlevy & Derek Neal, 2012. "Pay for Percentile," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 102(5), pages 1805-31, August.
    2. Gürtler, Oliver & Kräkel, Matthias, 2008. "Optimal Tournament Contracts for Heterogeneous Workers," Discussion Paper Series of SFB/TR 15 Governance and the Efficiency of Economic Systems 234, Free University of Berlin, Humboldt University of Berlin, University of Bonn, University of Mannheim, University of Munich.
    3. Conrads, Julian & Irlenbusch, Bernd & Rilke, Rainer Michael & Schielke, Anne & Walkowitz, Gari, 2014. "Honesty in tournaments," Economics Letters, Elsevier, vol. 123(1), pages 90-93.
    4. Nieken, Petra & Stegh, Michael, 2010. "Incentive Effects in Asymmetric Tournaments Empirical Evidence from the German Hockey League," Discussion Paper Series of SFB/TR 15 Governance and the Efficiency of Economic Systems 305, Free University of Berlin, Humboldt University of Berlin, University of Bonn, University of Mannheim, University of Munich.
    5. Stracke, Rudi & Höchtl, Wolfgang & Kerschbamer, Rudolf & Sunde, Uwe, 2012. "Optimal Prizes in Dynamic Elimination Contests: An Experimental Analysis," Economics Working Paper Series 1208, University of St. Gallen, School of Economics and Political Science.
    6. Josse Delfgaauw & Robert Dur & Arjan Non & Willem Verbeke, 2011. "The Effects of Prize Spread and Noise in Elimination Tournaments: A Natural Field Experiment," Tinbergen Institute Discussion Papers 11-120/1, Tinbergen Institute, revised 03 Oct 2013.
    7. Rudi Stracke & Wolfgang Höchtl & Rudolf Kerschbamer & Uwe Sunde, 2014. "Optimal prizes in dynamic elimination contests: Theory and experimental evidence," Working Papers 2014-08, Faculty of Economics and Statistics, University of Innsbruck.

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