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Ambiguity aversion as a reason to choose tournaments

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  • Christian Kellner

    (University of Bonn)

  • Gerhard Riener

    (University of Jena and Max-Planck Institute of Economics, Jena)

Abstract

We test the implications of ambiguity aversion in a principal-agent problem with multiple agents. When output distributions are uncertain, models of ambiguity aversion suggest that tournaments may become more attractive than independent wage contracts, in contrast to the case where output distributions are known. We do so by presenting agents with a choice between tournaments and independent contracts, which are designed in a way that under uncertainty about output distribution (that is, under ambiguity), ambiguity averse agents should typically prefer tournaments, while ambiguity neutral agents prefer independent contracts, independent of their degree of risk aversion. This is the case, because the tournament removes all ambiguity about the equilibrium wages. We compare the share of participants who choose the tournament under ambiguity with the share of participants choosing the tournament in a control treatment, where output distributions are know. As the theory predicts, we find indeed that under ambiguity the share of agents who choose the tournaments is higher than in the case of known output distributions.

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Bibliographic Info

Paper provided by Friedrich-Schiller-University Jena, Max-Planck-Institute of Economics in its series Jena Economic Research Papers with number 2011-033.

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Date of creation: 11 Jul 2011
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Handle: RePEc:jrp:jrpwrp:2011-033

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Keywords: Ambiguity aversion; tournaments; Ellsberg urn; contract design;

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  1. Stefan T. Trautmann & Ferdinand M. Vieider & Peter P. Wakker, 2011. "Preference Reversals for Ambiguity Aversion," Management Science, INFORMS, vol. 57(7), pages 1320-1333, July.
  2. Peter Klibanoff & Massimo Marinacci & Sujoy Mukerji, 2002. "A smooth model of decision making under ambiguity," ICER Working Papers - Applied Mathematics Series 11-2003, ICER - International Centre for Economic Research, revised Apr 2003.
  3. Canice Prendergast, 1999. "The Provision of Incentives in Firms," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 37(1), pages 7-63, March.
  4. Gilboa, Itzhak & Schmeidler, David, 1989. "Maxmin expected utility with non-unique prior," Journal of Mathematical Economics, Elsevier, vol. 18(2), pages 141-153, April.
  5. Muriel Niederle & Lise Vesterlund, 2007. "Do Women Shy Away from Competition? Do Men Compete Too Much?," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 122(3), pages 1067-1101, 08.
  6. Halevy, Yoram, 2005. "Ellsberg Revisited: an Experimental Study," Microeconomics.ca working papers halevy-05-07-26-11-51-13, Vancouver School of Economics, revised 25 Feb 2014.
  7. Fox, Craig R & Tversky, Amos, 1995. "Ambiguity Aversion and Comparative Ignorance," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 110(3), pages 585-603, August.
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