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Risk Taking in Asymmetric Tournaments

  • Matthias Kräkel
  • Dirk Sliwka

A tournament is examined in which two agents with different abilities choose efforts as well as risks. According to the previous literature, the more (less) able agent should choose a low (high) risk strategy, because the first one does not want to imperil his favorable position, whereas the last one can only gain by increasing risk. We show that this is not necessarily true. Risk taking affects equilibrium efforts as well as winning probabilities. Depending on both effects diverse equilibria are possible. For example, the low and the high ability agent may both choose high risks or both choose low risks. Copyright Verein für Socialpolitik and Blackwell Publishing Ltd. 2004.

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Article provided by Verein für Socialpolitik in its journal German Economic Review.

Volume (Year): 5 (2004)
Issue (Month): 1 (02)
Pages: 103-116

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Handle: RePEc:bla:germec:v:5:y:2004:i:1:p:103-116
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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 841-64, October.
  2. Ronald G. Ehrenberg & Michael L. Bognanno, 1990. "The incentive effects of tournaments revisited: Evidence from the European PGA tour," Industrial and Labor Relations Review, ILR Review, Cornell University, ILR School, vol. 43(3), pages 74-88, February.
  3. Eriksson, Tor, 1999. "Executive Compensation and Tournament Theory: Empirical Tests on Danish Data," Journal of Labor Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 17(2), pages 262-80, April.
  4. Ronald G. Ehrenberg & Michael L. Bognanno, 1988. "Do Tournaments Have Incentive Effects?," NBER Working Papers 2638, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  5. Baker, George & Gibbs, Michael & Holmstrom, Bengt, 1994. "The Wage Policy of a Firm," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 109(4), pages 921-55, November.
  6. Robert Gibbons & Kevin J. Murphy, 1991. "Relative Performance Evaluation for Chief Executive Officers," NBER Working Papers 2944, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  7. Hans K. Hvide, 2000. "Tournament Rewards and Risk Taking," Econometric Society World Congress 2000 Contributed Papers 0163, Econometric Society.
  8. Knoeber, Charles R & Thurman, Walter N, 1994. "Testing the Theory of Tournaments: An Empirical Analysis of Broiler Production," Journal of Labor Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 12(2), pages 155-79, April.
  9. Glazer, Amihai & Hassin, Refael, 1988. "Optimal Contests," Economic Inquiry, Western Economic Association International, vol. 26(1), pages 133-43, January.
  10. Hoffler, Felix & Sliwka, Dirk, 2003. "Do new brooms sweep clean? When and why dismissing a manager increases the subordinates' performance," European Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 47(5), pages 877-890, October.
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