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Carrots And Sticks: Prizes And Punishments In Contests

Author

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  • BENNY MOLDOVANU
  • ANER SELA
  • XIANWEN SHI

Abstract

We study optimal contest design in situations where the designer can reward high performance agents with positive prizes and punish low performance agents with negative prizes. We link the optimal prize structure to the curvature of distribution of abilities in the population. In particular, we identify conditions under which, even if punishment is costly, punishing the bottom is more effective than rewarding the top in eliciting effort input. If punishment is costless, we study the optimal number of punishments in the contest. (JEL D44, D82, J31, J41)

Suggested Citation

  • Benny Moldovanu & Aner Sela & Xianwen Shi, 2012. "Carrots And Sticks: Prizes And Punishments In Contests," Economic Inquiry, Western Economic Association International, vol. 50(2), pages 453-462, April.
  • Handle: RePEc:bla:ecinqu:v:50:y:2012:i:2:p:453-462
    DOI: j.1465-7295.2010.00322.x
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    1. Lazear, Edward P & Rosen, Sherwin, 1981. "Rank-Order Tournaments as Optimum Labor Contracts," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 89(5), pages 841-864, October.
    2. Benny Moldovanu & Aner Sela, 2008. "The Optimal Allocation of Prizes in Contests," Springer Books, in: Roger D. Congleton & Arye L. Hillman & Kai A. Konrad (ed.), 40 Years of Research on Rent Seeking 1, pages 615-631, Springer.
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    6. Green, Jerry R & Stokey, Nancy L, 1983. "A Comparison of Tournaments and Contracts," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 91(3), pages 349-364, June.
    7. James Andreoni & William Harbaugh & Lise Vesterlund, 2003. "The Carrot or the Stick: Rewards, Punishments, and Cooperation," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 93(3), pages 893-902, June.
    8. Robert Akerlof & Richard Holden, 2012. "The nature of tournaments," Economic Theory, Springer;Society for the Advancement of Economic Theory (SAET), vol. 51(2), pages 289-313, October.
    9. Moldovanu, Benny & Sela, Aner, 2006. "Contest architecture," Journal of Economic Theory, Elsevier, vol. 126(1), pages 70-96, January.
    10. Benny Moldovanu & Aner Sela & Xianwen Shi, 2007. "Contests for Status," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 115(2), pages 338-363.
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    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • D44 - Microeconomics - - Market Structure, Pricing, and Design - - - Auctions
    • D82 - Microeconomics - - Information, Knowledge, and Uncertainty - - - Asymmetric and Private Information; Mechanism Design
    • J31 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Wages, Compensation, and Labor Costs - - - Wage Level and Structure; Wage Differentials
    • J41 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Particular Labor Markets - - - Labor Contracts

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