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Carrots and Sticks: Prizes and Punishments in Contests

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  • Moldovanu, Benny
  • Sela, Aner
  • Shi, Xianwen

Abstract

We study optimal contest design in situations where the designer can reward high performance agents with positive prizes and punish low performance agents with negative prizes. We link the optimal prize structure to the curvature of distribution of abilities in the population. In particular, we identify conditions under which, even if punishment is costly, punishing the bottom is more effective than rewarding the top in eliciting effort input. If punishment is costless, we study the optimal number of punishments in the contest.

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Paper provided by C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers in its series CEPR Discussion Papers with number 6770.

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Date of creation: Apr 2008
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Handle: RePEc:cpr:ceprdp:6770

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Keywords: All-pay auctions; Contests; Order Statistics; Punishments;

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References

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  1. Moldovanu, Benny & Sela, Aner, 2002. "Contest Architecture," Sonderforschungsbereich 504 Publications 02-06, Sonderforschungsbereich 504, Universität Mannheim & Sonderforschungsbereich 504, University of Mannheim.
  2. James Andreoni & William T. harbaugh & Lise Vesterlund, 2002. "The Carrot or the Stick: Rewards, Punishments, and Cooperation," University of Oregon Economics Department Working Papers 2002-01, University of Oregon Economics Department, revised 20 Aug 2002.
  3. Yeon-Koo Che & Ian Gale, 2003. "Optimal Design of Research Contests," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 93(3), pages 646-671, June.
  4. Benny Moldovanu & Aner Sela, 2001. "The Optimal Allocation of Prizes in Contests," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 91(3), pages 542-558, June.
  5. Benny Moldovanu & Aner Sela & Xianwen Shi, 2007. "Contests for Status," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 115, pages 338-363.
  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. Glazer, Amihai & Hassin, Refael, 1988. "Optimal Contests," Economic Inquiry, Western Economic Association International, vol. 26(1), pages 133-43, January.
  8. Edward P. Lazear & Sherwin Rosen, 1979. "Rank-Order Tournaments as Optimum Labor Contracts," NBER Working Papers 0401, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  9. 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.
  10. Richard L. Fullerton & R. Preston McAfee, 1999. "Auctioning Entry into Tournaments," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 107(3), pages 573-605, June.
  11. Barut, Yasar & Kovenock, Dan, 1998. "The symmetric multiple prize all-pay auction with complete information," European Journal of Political Economy, Elsevier, vol. 14(4), pages 627-644, November.
  12. Clark, Derek J & Riis, Christian, 1998. "Competition over More Than One Prize," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 88(1), pages 276-89, March.
  13. Robert Akerlof & Richard Holden, 2012. "The nature of tournaments," Economic Theory, Springer, vol. 51(2), pages 289-313, October.
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Citations

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Cited by:
  1. Todd R. Kaplan & Shmuel Zamir, 2014. "Advances in Auctions," Discussion Paper Series dp662, The Center for the Study of Rationality, Hebrew University, Jerusalem.
  2. E. Glenn Dutcher & Loukas Balafoutas & Florian Lindner & Dmitry Ryvkin & Matthias Sutter, 2013. "Strive to be first or avoid being last: An experiment on relative performance incentives," Working Papers 2013-08, Faculty of Economics and Statistics, University of Innsbruck.
  3. Lindner, Florian & Dutcher, E. Glenn & Balafoutas, Loukas & Ryvkin, Dmitry & Sutter, Matthias, 2013. "Strive to be first and avoid being last: An experiment on relative performance incentives," Annual Conference 2013 (Duesseldorf): Competition Policy and Regulation in a Global Economic Order 79885, Verein für Socialpolitik / German Economic Association.
  4. Chiappinelli, Olga, 2014. "An elimination contest with non-sunk bids," MPRA Paper 56140, University Library of Munich, Germany.
  5. Segev, Ella & Sela, Aner, 2014. "Sequential all-pay auctions with noisy outputs," Journal of Mathematical Economics, Elsevier, vol. 50(C), pages 251-261.
  6. Kiho Yoon, 2012. "The optimal allocation of prizes in contests: An auction approach," Discussion Paper Series 1207, Institute of Economic Research, Korea University.
  7. Ezra Einy & Ori Haimanko & Ram Orzach & Aner Sela, 2013. "Common-Value All-Pay Auctions With Asymmetric Information," Working Papers 1306, Ben-Gurion University of the Negev, Department of Economics.
  8. Thomas, Jonathan P. & Wang, Zhewei, 2013. "Optimal punishment in contests with endogenous entry," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 91(C), pages 34-50.
  9. Sela, Aner, 2009. "Best-of-Three All-Pay Auctions," CEPR Discussion Papers 7224, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  10. Jason J Lepore & Alison Mackey & Tyson B Mackey, 2012. "Punishment versus Reward in All-pay Contests with Perfect Information," Economics Bulletin, AccessEcon, vol. 32(4), pages 3090-3097.

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