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Stakes and Motivation in Tournaments: Playing When There is Nothing to Play for but Pride

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Author Info

  • Lionel Page

    (Westminster Business School, University of Westminster, & Judge Business School, University of Cambridge, England)

  • Katie Page

    (Department of Psychology, Heythrop College, University of London, England)

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    Abstract

    Tournaments are an effective means of incentivising participants to ensure an optimal level of effort. However, situations can occur in tournaments where the final outcome of a given competitor does not depend on his/her future performance. Specifically, we study these specific situations in a data set of the group stages of European football club competitions from 1992 to 2009. We identify situations where teams are already sure to finish either first or last at the penultimate stage in the group. We show that such situations affect team performance in the last match, typically decreasing the performance of a team sure to finish first and increasing the performance of a team sure to finish last. The first finding is in line with the economic predictions yet provides interesting implications, namely that the schedule of the match order plays a significant role in the overall performance of the team. The second, counter-intuitive, finding is not well accommodated into the existing economics framework and thus we discuss two alternative explanations, one based on social pressure and the other on pride.

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    Bibliographic Info

    Article provided by Queensland University of Technology (QUT), School of Economics and Finance in its journal Economic Analysis and Policy (EAP).

    Volume (Year): 39 (2009)
    Issue (Month): 3 (December)
    Pages: 445-464

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    Handle: RePEc:eap:articl:v39:y:2009:i:3:p:445-464

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    Web page: http://www.journals.elsevier.com/economic-analysis-and-policy/
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    Keywords: doping; economics of sport; illegal activities;

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    References

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    1. Beck A. Taylor & Justin G. Trogdon, 2002. "Losing to Win: Tournament Incentives in the National Basketball Association," Journal of Labor Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 20(1), pages 23-41, January.
    2. Green, Jerry & Stokey, Nancy, 1983. "A Comparison of Tournaments and Contracts," Scholarly Articles 3203644, Harvard University Department of Economics.
    3. 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.
    4. Ronald G. Ehrenberg & Michael L. Bognanno, 1990. "The incentive effects of tournaments revisited: Evidence from the European PGA tour," Industrial and Labor Relations Review, ILR Review, Cornell University, ILR School, vol. 43(3), pages 74-88, February.
    5. Canice Prendergast, 1999. "The Provision of Incentives in Firms," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 37(1), pages 7-63, March.
    6. Jerry R. Green & Nancy L. Stokey, 1982. "A Comparison of Tournaments and Contracts," NBER Working Papers 0840, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    7. Lazear, Edward P & Rosen, Sherwin, 1981. "Rank-Order Tournaments as Optimum Labor Contracts," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 89(5), pages 841-64, October.
    8. Knoeber, Charles R & Thurman, Walter N, 1994. "Testing the Theory of Tournaments: An Empirical Analysis of Broiler Production," Journal of Labor Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 12(2), pages 155-79, April.
    9. Main, Brian G M & O'Reilly, Charles A, III & Wade, James, 1993. "Top Executive Pay: Tournament or Teamwork?," Journal of Labor Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 11(4), pages 606-28, October.
    10. Knoeber, Charles R, 1989. "A Real Game of Chicken: Contracts, Tournaments, and the Production of Broilers," Journal of Law, Economics and Organization, Oxford University Press, vol. 5(2), pages 271-92, Fall.
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