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The Value of Commitment in Contests and Tournaments when Observation is Costly

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  • Morgan, John
  • Várdy, Felix

Abstract

We study the value of commitment in contests and tournaments when there are costs for the follower to observe the leader's behavior. In a contest, the follower can pay to observe the leader's effort but cannot observe the effectiveness of that effort. In a tournament, the follower can pay to observe the effectiveness of the leader's effort but not the effort itself. We show that this distinction matters significantly: When observation is costly, the value of commitment vanishes entirely in sequential and endogenous move contests, regardless of the size of the observation cost. By contrast, in tournaments, the value of commitment is preserved completely, provided that the observation costs are sufficiently small.

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Bibliographic Info

Paper provided by Competition Policy Center, Institute for Business and Economic Research, UC Berkeley in its series Competition Policy Center, Working Paper Series with number qt0s6752rf.

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Date of creation: 01 Feb 2005
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Handle: RePEc:cdl:compol:qt0s6752rf

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Keywords: Contests; Tournaments; Rent-Seeking; Commitment; Costly Leader Games;

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References

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  1. V. Bhaskar, 2005. "Commitment and Observability in an Economic Environment," Economics Discussion Papers 596, University of Essex, Department of Economics.
  2. Ronald G. Ehrenberg & Michael L. Bognanno, 1988. "Do Tournaments Have Incentive Effects?," NBER Working Papers 2638, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  3. Damme, E.E.C. van & Hurkens, J.P.M., 1997. "Games with imperfectly observable commitment," Open Access publications from Tilburg University urn:nbn:nl:ui:12-74216, Tilburg University.
  4. Morgan, John, 2003. " Sequential Contests," Public Choice, Springer, vol. 116(1-2), pages 1-18, July.
  5. Nitzan, Shmuel, 1994. "Modelling rent-seeking contests," European Journal of Political Economy, Elsevier, vol. 10(1), pages 41-60, May.
  6. Jörg Oechssler & Karl H Schlag, 1997. "Loss of Commitment? An Evolutionary Analysis of Bagwell’s Example," Levine's Working Paper Archive 598, David K. Levine.
  7. Stergios Skaperdas, 1996. "Contest success functions (*)," Economic Theory, Springer, vol. 7(2), pages 283-290.
  8. Kyle Bagwell, 1992. "Commitment and Observability in Games," Discussion Papers 1014, Northwestern University, Center for Mathematical Studies in Economics and Management Science.
  9. Guth, Werner & Kirchsteiger, Georg & Ritzberger, Klaus, 1998. "Imperfectly Observable Commitments inn-Player Games," Games and Economic Behavior, Elsevier, vol. 23(1), pages 54-74, April.
  10. Huck, Steffen & Muller, Wieland, 2000. "Perfect versus Imperfect Observability--An Experimental Test of Bagwell's Result," Games and Economic Behavior, Elsevier, vol. 31(2), pages 174-190, May.
  11. Morgan, John & Sefton, Martin, 2000. "Funding Public Goods with Lotteries: Experimental Evidence," Review of Economic Studies, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 67(4), pages 785-810, October.
  12. Amegashie, J Atsu, 1999. " The Design of Rent-Seeking Competitions: Committees, Preliminary and Final Contests," Public Choice, Springer, vol. 99(1-2), pages 63-76, April.
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  19. Yildirim, Huseyin, 2005. "Contests with multiple rounds," Games and Economic Behavior, Elsevier, vol. 51(1), pages 213-227, April.
  20. Christian Riis & Derek J. Clark, 1997. "Contest success functions: an extension," Economic Theory, Springer, vol. 11(1), pages 201-204.
  21. Dixit, Avinash K, 1987. "Strategic Behavior in Contests," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 77(5), pages 891-98, December.
  22. Gradstein, Mark, 1998. "Optimal contest design: volume and timing of rent seeking in contests," European Journal of Political Economy, Elsevier, vol. 14(4), pages 575-585, November.
  23. Morgan, John, 2000. "Financing Public Goods by Means of Lotteries," Review of Economic Studies, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 67(4), pages 761-84, October.
  24. Baye, Michael R & Kovenock, Dan & de Vries, Casper G, 1994. " The Solution to the Tullock Rent-Seeking Game When R Is Greater Than 2: Mixed-Strategy Equilibria and Mean Dissipation Rates," Public Choice, Springer, vol. 81(3-4), pages 363-80, December.
  25. Baik, Kyung H & Shogren, Jason F, 1992. "Strategic Behavior in Contests: Comment," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 82(1), pages 359-62, March.
  26. Taylor, Curtis R, 1995. "Digging for Golden Carrots: An Analysis of Research Tournaments," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 85(4), pages 872-90, September.
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Citations

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Cited by:
  1. Grégoire Rota-Graziosi & Magnus Hoffmann, 2011. "Endogenous Timing in General Rent‐Seeking and Conflict Models," Working Papers halshs-00553119, HAL.
  2. Bhaskar, V., 2009. "Commitment and observability in a contracting environment," Games and Economic Behavior, Elsevier, vol. 66(2), pages 708-720, July.
  3. Fu, Qiang & Gürtler, Oliver & Münster, Johannes, 2013. "Communication and commitment in contests," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 95(C), pages 1-19.
  4. Van Gorder, Robert A. & Caputo, Michael R., 2010. "Envelope theorems for locally differentiable open-loop Stackelberg equilibria of finite horizon differential games," Journal of Economic Dynamics and Control, Elsevier, vol. 34(6), pages 1123-1139, June.
  5. Daniel Houser & Thomas Stratmann, 2012. "Gordon Tullock and experimental economics," Public Choice, Springer, vol. 152(1), pages 211-222, July.
  6. V. Bhaskar, 2005. "Commitment and Observability in an Economic Environment," Economics Discussion Papers 596, University of Essex, Department of Economics.
  7. Tanja Hörtnagl & Rudolf Kerschbamer, 2014. "How the Value of Information Shapes the Value of Commitment Or: Why the Value of Commitment Does Not Vanish," Working Papers 2014-03, Faculty of Economics and Statistics, University of Innsbruck.
  8. Caruso, Raul, 2008. "Al Qaeda as a Tournament: Empirical Evidence," MPRA Paper 11693, University Library of Munich, Germany.
  9. Denter, Philipp & Morgan, John & Sisak, Dana, 2011. ""Where Ignorance is Bliss, 'tis Folly to be Wise": Transparency in Contests," Economics Working Paper Series 1128, University of St. Gallen, School of Economics and Political Science.
  10. Christoffel Grechenig & Martin Kolmar, 2011. "The State’s Enforcement Monopoly and the Private Protection of Property," Working Paper Series of the Max Planck Institute for Research on Collective Goods 2011_24, Max Planck Institute for Research on Collective Goods.
  11. Qiang Fu & Jingfeng Lu, 2012. "Micro foundations of multi-prize lottery contests: a perspective of noisy performance ranking," Social Choice and Welfare, Springer, vol. 38(3), pages 497-517, March.
  12. Caruso, Raul & Schneider, Friedrich, 2009. "Al Qaeda and Jihadist Terrorism in the Light of Contest Theory, Empirical Evidence for the period 2004-2008," MPRA Paper 15856, University Library of Munich, Germany.

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