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Contests for Status

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

Abstract

We study the optimal design of organizations under the assumption that agents in a contest care about their relative position. A judicious definition of status categories can be used by a principal in order to influence the agents’ performance. We first consider a pure status case where there are no tangible prizes. Our main results connect the optimal partition in status categories to various properties of the distribution of ability among contestants. The top status category always contains an unique element. For distributions of abilities that have an increasing failure rate, a proliferation of status classes is optimal, while in other cases the optimal partition involves some coarseness. Finally, we modify the model to allow for status categories that are endogenously determined by monetary prizes of different sizes. If status is solely derived from monetary rewards, we show that the optimal partition in status classes contains only two categories.

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Paper provided by Free University of Berlin, Humboldt University of Berlin, University of Bonn, University of Mannheim, University of Munich in its series Discussion Paper Series of SFB/TR 15 Governance and the Efficiency of Economic Systems with number 139.

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Date of creation: Jul 2005
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Handle: RePEc:trf:wpaper:139

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  1. Bognanno, Michael L, 2001. "Corporate Tournaments," Journal of Labor Economics, University of Chicago Press, University of Chicago Press, vol. 19(2), pages 290-315, April.
  2. Edward P. Lazear & Sherwin Rosen, 1979. "Rank-Order Tournaments as Optimum Labor Contracts," NBER Working Papers 0401, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  3. Fershtman, C. & Weiss, Y., 1991. "Social Status , Culture and Economic Performance," Papers, Tel Aviv 32-91, Tel Aviv.
  4. Andrew Postlewaite, . ""The Social Basis of Interdependent Preferences''," CARESS Working Papres, University of Pennsylvania Center for Analytic Research and Economics in the Social Sciences 97-14, University of Pennsylvania Center for Analytic Research and Economics in the Social Sciences.
  5. Robson, Arthur J, 1992. "Status, the Distribution of Wealth, Private and Social Attitudes to Risk," Econometrica, Econometric Society, Econometric Society, vol. 60(4), pages 837-57, July.
  6. Ed Hopkins & Tatiana Kornienko, 2004. "Running to Keep in the Same Place: Consumer Choice as a Game of Status," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, American Economic Association, vol. 94(4), pages 1085-1107, September.
  7. Green, Jerry & Stokey, Nancy, 1983. "A Comparison of Tournaments and Contracts," Scholarly Articles 3203644, Harvard University Department of Economics.
  8. Pradeep Dubey & John Geanakoplos, 2004. "Grading Exams: 100, 99, ..., 1 or A, B, C? Incentives in Games of Status," Cowles Foundation Discussion Papers, Cowles Foundation for Research in Economics, Yale University 1467, Cowles Foundation for Research in Economics, Yale University.
  9. Sheryl Ball & Catherine Eckel & Philip J. Grossman & William Zame, 2001. "Status In Markets," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, MIT Press, vol. 116(1), pages 161-188, February.
  10. Milton Friedman, 1953. "Choice, Chance, and the Personal Distribution of Income," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, University of Chicago Press, vol. 61, pages 277.
  11. Rick Harbaugh & Tatiana Kornienko, 2000. "Local Status and Prospect Theory," Claremont Colleges Working Papers, Claremont Colleges 2000-38, Claremont Colleges.
  12. Bagwell, Laurie Simon & Bernheim, B Douglas, 1996. "Veblen Effects in a Theory of Conspicuous Consumption," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, American Economic Association, vol. 86(3), pages 349-73, June.
  13. Brown, Gordon D. A. & Gardner, Jonathan & Oswald, Andrew J. & Qian, Jing, 2005. "Does Wage Rank Affect Employees' Wellbeing?," IZA Discussion Papers 1505, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
  14. Larry Samuelson, 2004. "Information-Based Relative Consumption Effects," Econometrica, Econometric Society, Econometric Society, vol. 72(1), pages 93-118, 01.
  15. Benny Moldovanu & Aner Sela, 2001. "The Optimal Allocation of Prizes in Contests," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, American Economic Association, vol. 91(3), pages 542-558, June.
  16. Gary S. Becker & Kevin M. Murphy & Ivan Werning, 2005. "The Equilibrium Distribution of Income and the Market for Status," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, University of Chicago Press, vol. 113(2), pages 282-310, April.
  17. Milton Friedman & L. J. Savage, 1948. "The Utility Analysis of Choices Involving Risk," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, University of Chicago Press, vol. 56, pages 279.
  18. Glazer, Amihai & Konrad, Kai A, 1996. "A Signaling Explanation for Charity," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, American Economic Association, vol. 86(4), pages 1019-28, September.
  19. Cole, Harold L & Mailath, George J & Postlewaite, Andrew, 1992. "Social Norms, Savings Behavior, and Growth," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, University of Chicago Press, vol. 100(6), pages 1092-1125, December.
  20. Baker, George & Gibbs, Michael & Holmstrom, Bengt, 1994. "The Internal Economics of the Firm: Evidence from Personnel Data," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, MIT Press, vol. 109(4), pages 881-919, November.
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