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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

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)

Suggested Citation

  • Jeffrey Carpenter & Peter Hans Matthews & John Schirm, 2010. "Tournaments and Office Politics: Evidence from a Real Effort Experiment," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 100(1), pages 504-517, March.
  • 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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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. Ernst Fehr & Georg Kirchsteiger & Arno Riedl, 1993. "Does Fairness Prevent Market Clearing? An Experimental Investigation," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 108(2), pages 437-459.
    2. Christian Grund & Dirk Sliwka, 2005. "Envy and Compassion in Tournaments," Journal of Economics & Management Strategy, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 14(1), pages 187-207, March.
    3. Lazear, Edward P, 1989. "Pay Equality and Industrial Politics," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 97(3), pages 561-580, June.
    4. Armin Falk & Andrea Ichino, "undated". "Clean Evidence on Peer Pressure," IEW - Working Papers 144, Institute for Empirical Research in Economics - University of Zurich.
    5. van Dijk, Frans & Sonnemans, Joep & van Winden, Frans, 2001. "Incentive systems in a real effort experiment," European Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 45(2), pages 187-214, February.
    6. Kong-Pin Chen, 2003. "Sabotage in Promotion Tournaments," Journal of Law, Economics, and Organization, Oxford University Press, vol. 19(1), pages 119-140, April.
    7. Harbring, Christine & Irlenbusch, Bernd, 2004. "Incentives in Tournaments with Endogenous Prize Selection," IZA Discussion Papers 1340, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
    8. 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.
    9. Chan, William, 1996. "External Recruitment versus Internal Promotion," Journal of Labor Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 14(4), pages 555-570, October.
    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. Nalbantian, Haig R & Schotter, Andrew, 1997. "Productivity under Group Incentives: An Experimental Study," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 87(3), pages 314-341, June.
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    15. Bruggen, Alexander & Strobel, Martin, 2007. "Real effort versus chosen effort in experiments," Economics Letters, Elsevier, vol. 96(2), pages 232-236, August.
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    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • D82 - Microeconomics - - Information, Knowledge, and Uncertainty - - - Asymmetric and Private Information; Mechanism Design
    • M54 - Business Administration and Business Economics; Marketing; Accounting; Personnel Economics - - Personnel Economics - - - Labor Management

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