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Tournaments and Office Politics: Evidence from a Real Effort Experiment

  • Jeffrey Carpenter
  • Peter Hans Matthews
  • John Schirm

Tournaments can elicit more effort but sabotage may attenuate the effect of competition. Because it is hard to separate effort and ability, the evidence on tournaments is thin. There is even less evidence on sabotage because these acts often consist of subjective peer evaluation or "office politics." We discuss real effort experiments in which quality adjusted output and office politics are compared under piece rates and tournaments and find that tournaments increase effort only in the absence of office politics. Competitors subvert each other more in tournaments, and as a result, workers produce less because they expect to be sabotaged. (D82, M54)

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Article provided by American Economic Association in its journal American Economic Review.

Volume (Year): 100 (2010)
Issue (Month): 1 (March)
Pages: 504-17

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Handle: RePEc:aea:aecrev:v:100:y:2010:i:1:p:504-17
Note: DOI: 10.1257/aer.100.1.504
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  1. Chan, William, 1996. "External Recruitment versus Internal Promotion," Journal of Labor Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 14(4), pages 555-70, October.
  2. Frans van Dijk & Joep Sonnemans & Frans van Winden, 2000. "Incentive Systems in a Real Effort Experiment," CESifo Working Paper Series 272, CESifo Group Munich.
  3. Lazear, Edward P, 1989. "Pay Equality and Industrial Politics," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 97(3), pages 561-80, June.
  4. Christian Grund & Dirk Sliwka, 2002. "Envy and Compassion in Tournaments," Bonn Econ Discussion Papers bgse32_2002, University of Bonn, Germany.
  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. Falk, Armin & Ichino, Andrea, 2003. "Clean Evidence on Peer Pressure," IZA Discussion Papers 732, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
  7. repec:oup:qjecon:v:108:y:1993:i:2:p:437-59 is not listed on IDEAS
  8. Harbring, Christine & Irlenbusch, Bernd, 2004. "Incentives in Tournaments with Endogenous Prize Selection," IZA Discussion Papers 1340, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
  9. 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.
  10. 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.
  11. Bruggen, Alexander & Strobel, Martin, 2007. "Real effort versus chosen effort in experiments," Economics Letters, Elsevier, vol. 96(2), pages 232-236, August.
  12. Nalbantian, Haig & Schotter, Andrew, 1994. "Productivity Under Group Incentives: An Experimental Study," Working Papers 94-04, C.V. Starr Center for Applied Economics, New York University.
  13. 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.
  14. 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.
  15. Kong-Pin Chen, 2003. "Sabotage in Promotion Tournaments," Journal of Law, Economics and Organization, Oxford University Press, vol. 19(1), pages 119-140, April.
  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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