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Winner-Take-All and Proportional-Prize Contests: Theory and Experimental Results

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Author Info

  • Roman M. Sheremeta

    (Argyros School of Business and Economics, Chapman University)

  • William A. Masters

    (Department of Food and Nutrition Policy, Tufts University)

  • Timothy N. Cason

    (Department of Economics, Krannert School of Management, Purdue University)

Abstract

This study provides a unified theoretical and experimental framework in which to compare three canonical types of competition: winner-take-all contests won by the best performer, winner-take-all lotteries where probability of success is proportional to performance, and proportional-prize contests in which rewards are shared in proportion to performance. We introduce random noise to reflect imperfect information, and collect independent measures of risk aversion, other-regarding preferences, and the utility of winning a contest. The main finding is that efforts are consistently higher with winner-take-all contests. The lottery contests have the same Nash equilibrium as proportional prizes, but induce contestants to choose higher efforts and receive lower, more unequal payoffs. This result may explain why contest designers who seek only to elicit effort offer lump-sum prizes, even though contestants would be better off with proportional rewards.

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File URL: http://www.chapman.edu/ESI/wp/Sheremeta-Winner-Take-All.pdf
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Bibliographic Info

Paper provided by Chapman University, Economic Science Institute in its series Working Papers with number 12-04.

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Length: 41 pages
Date of creation: 2012
Date of revision:
Handle: RePEc:chu:wpaper:12-04

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Related research

Keywords: contests; rent-seeking; lotteries; incentives in experiments; risk aversion;

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References

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Citations

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Cited by:
  1. Steven Tucker & Charles Noussair & Roman M. Sheremeta, 2013. "Overbidding And Heterogeneous Behavior In Contest Experiments," Journal of Economic Surveys, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 27(3), pages 491-514, 07.
  2. Francesco Fallucchi & Elke Renner & Martin Sefton, 2013. "Information feedback and contest structure in rent-seeking games," Discussion Papers 2013-02, The Centre for Decision Research and Experimental Economics, School of Economics, University of Nottingham.
  3. Lacomba, Juan A. & Lagos, Francisco & Reuben, Ernesto & van Winden, Frans, 2014. "On the escalation and de-escalation of conflict," Games and Economic Behavior, Elsevier, vol. 86(C), pages 40-57.
  4. Hoffmann, Magnus & Kolmar, Martin, 2013. "Intention-based fairness preferences in two-player contests," Economics Letters, Elsevier, vol. 120(2), pages 276-279.
  5. Marco Faravelli & Luca Stanca, 2013. "Economic Incentives and Social Preferences: Causal Evidence of Non-Separability," Working Papers 250, University of Milano-Bicocca, Department of Economics, revised Jul 2013.

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