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TOURNAMENTS AND OFFICE POLITICS: Evidence from a real effort experiment

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  • Jeffrey Carpenter

    ()

  • Peter Hans Matthews

    ()

  • John Schirm

Abstract

In many environments, tournaments can elicit more effort from workers, except perhaps when workers can sabotage each other. Because it is hard to separate effort, ability and output in many real workplace settings, the empirical evidence on the incentive effect of tournaments is thin. There is even less evidence on the impact of sabotage because real world acts of sabotage are often subtle manifestations of subjective peer evaluation or “offce politics.” We discuss a real effort experiment in which effort, quality adjusted output and o?ce politics are compared under piece rates and tournaments. Our results suggest that tournaments increase e?ort only in the absence of offce politics. Competitors are more likely to sabotage each other in tournaments and, as a result, workers actually provide less e?ort simply because they expect to be the victims of sabotage. Adjusting output for quality with the rating of an independent auditor shrinks the incentive effect of the tournament even further since output tends to become more slipshod. "The person who says ‘I’m not political’ is in great danger... Only the fittest will survive, and the fittest will be the ones who understand their offce’s politics." Jean Hollands, quoted in Playing Offce Politics, Newsweek, 16 September 1985

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Paper provided by Middlebury College, Department of Economics in its series Middlebury College Working Paper Series with number 0709.

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Length: 26 pages
Date of creation: Sep 2007
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Handle: RePEc:mdl:mdlpap:0709

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  1. Harbring, Christine & Irlenbusch, Bernd, 2004. "Incentives in Tournaments with Endogenous Prize Selection," IZA Discussion Papers 1340, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
  2. Georg Kirchsteiger & Ernst Fehr & Arno Riedl, 1993. "Does Fairness Prevent Market Clearing? An Experimental Investigation," ULB Institutional Repository 2013/5927, ULB -- Universite Libre de Bruxelles.
  3. Drago, Robert & Garvey, Gerald T, 1998. "Incentives for Helping on the Job: Theory and Evidence," Journal of Labor Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 16(1), pages 1-25, January.
  4. Garicano, Luis & Palacios-Huerta, Ignacio, 2005. "Sabotage in Tournaments: Making the Beautiful Game a Bit Less Beautiful," CEPR Discussion Papers 5231, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  5. James Konow, 2000. "Fair Shares: Accountability and Cognitive Dissonance in Allocation Decisions," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 90(4), pages 1072-1091, September.
  6. Armin Falk & Andrea Ichino, . "Clean Evidence on Peer Pressure," IEW - Working Papers 144, Institute for Empirical Research in Economics - University of Zurich.
  7. Kong-Pin Chen, 2003. "Sabotage in Promotion Tournaments," Journal of Law, Economics and Organization, Oxford University Press, vol. 19(1), pages 119-140, April.
  8. Christian Grund & Dirk Sliwka, 2005. "Envy and Compassion in Tournaments," Journal of Economics & Management Strategy, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 14(1), pages 187-207, 03.
  9. Bruggen, Alexander & Strobel, Martin, 2007. "Real effort versus chosen effort in experiments," Economics Letters, Elsevier, vol. 96(2), pages 232-236, August.
  10. Frans van Dijk & Joep Sonnemans & Frans van Winden, 1998. "Incentive Systems in a Real Effort Experiment," Tinbergen Institute Discussion Papers 98-023/1, Tinbergen Institute.
  11. Christine Harbring & Bernd Irlenbusch, 2005. "Incentives in Tournaments with Endogenous Prize Selection," Journal of Institutional and Theoretical Economics (JITE), Mohr Siebeck, Tübingen, vol. 161(4), pages 636-, December.
  12. Harbring, Christine & Irlenbusch, Bernd, 2008. "How many winners are good to have?: On tournaments with sabotage," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 65(3-4), pages 682-702, March.
  13. Chan, William, 1996. "External Recruitment versus Internal Promotion," Journal of Labor Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 14(4), pages 555-70, October.
  14. Nalbantian, Haig R & Schotter, Andrew, 1997. "Productivity under Group Incentives: An Experimental Study," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 87(3), pages 314-41, June.
  15. Lazear, Edward P, 1989. "Pay Equality and Industrial Politics," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 97(3), pages 561-80, June.
  16. Harbring, Christine & Irlenbusch, Bernd, 2005. "How Many Winners Are Good to Have? On Tournaments with Sabotage," IZA Discussion Papers 1777, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
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