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Nationalism in Winter Sports Judging and Its Lessons for Organizational Decision Making


  • Eric Zitzewitz


"This paper exploits nationalistic biases in Olympic winter sports judging to study the problem of designing a decision-making process that uses the input of potentially biased agents. Judges score athletes from their own countries higher than other judges do, and they appear to vary their biases strategically in response to the stakes, the scrutiny given the event, and the degree of subjectivity of the performance aspect being scored. Ski jumping judges display a taste for fairness in that they compensate for the nationalistic biases of other panel members, while figure skating judges appear to engage in vote trading and bloc judging. Career concerns create incentives for judges: biased judges are less likely to be chosen to judge the Olympics in ski jumping but more likely in figure skating; this is consistent with judges being chosen centrally in ski jumping and by national federations in figure skating. The sports truncate extreme scores to different degrees; both ski jumping and, especially, figure skating are shown to truncate too aggressively. Extreme truncation not only discards information, but may also make the vote trading in figure skating easier to implement. These findings have implications for both the current proposals for reforming the judging of figure skating and for designing decision making in organizations more generally." Copyright 2006, The Author(s) Journal Compilation (c) 2006 Blackwell Publishing.

Suggested Citation

  • Eric Zitzewitz, 2006. "Nationalism in Winter Sports Judging and Its Lessons for Organizational Decision Making," Journal of Economics & Management Strategy, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 15(1), pages 67-99, March.
  • Handle: RePEc:bla:jemstr:v:15:y:2006:i:1:p:67-99

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. David Romer, 2002. "It's Fourth Down and What Does the Bellman Equation Say? A Dynamic Programming Analysis of Football Strategy," NBER Working Papers 9024, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    2. Justin Wolfers, 2006. "Point Shaving: Corruption in NCAA Basketball," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 96(2), pages 279-283, May.
    3. Zitzewitz, Eric, 2001. "Measuring Herding and Exaggeration by Equity Analysts and Other Opinion Sellers," Research Papers 1802, Stanford University, Graduate School of Business.
    4. Prendergast, Canice, 1993. "A Theory of "Yes Men."," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 83(4), pages 757-770, September.
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    Cited by:

    1. Christopher A. Parsons & Johan Sulaeman & Michael C. Yates & Daniel S. Hamermesh, 2007. "Strike Three: Umpires' Demand for Discrimination," NBER Working Papers 13665, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    2. Ryan Rodenberg, 2013. "Employee Discipline And Basketball Referees: A Prediction Market Approach," Journal of Prediction Markets, University of Buckingham Press, vol. 7(2), pages 43-54.
    3. repec:dau:papers:123456789/15122 is not listed on IDEAS
    4. Frank, Björn & Krabel, Stefan, 2013. "Gens una sumus?!—Or does political ideology affect experts’ esthetic judgment of chess games?," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 92(C), pages 66-78.
    5. Kurt W. Rotthoff, 2015. "(Not Finding a) Sequential Order Bias in Elite Level Gymnastics," Southern Economic Journal, Southern Economic Association, vol. 81(3), pages 724-741, January.
    6. Lee, Jungmin, 2004. "Outlier Aversion in Evaluating Performance: Evidence from Figure Skating," IZA Discussion Papers 1257, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
    7. Jonathan Reuter & Eric Zitzewitz, 2006. "Do Ads Influence Editors? Advertising and Bias in the Financial Media," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 121(1), pages 197-227.
    8. Helena Fornwagner, 2017. "Incentives to lose revisited: The NHL and its tournament incentives," Working Papers 2017-07, Faculty of Economics and Statistics, University of Innsbruck.
    9. Osório, António (António Miguel), 2016. "Judgement and Ranking: Living with Hidden Bias," Working Papers 2072/267264, Universitat Rovira i Virgili, Department of Economics.
    10. Thomas Dohmen & Jan Sauermann, 2016. "Referee Bias," Journal of Economic Surveys, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 30(4), pages 679-695, September.
    11. Tom Coupe & Olivier Gergaud & Abdul Noury, 2016. "Biases and Strategic Behavior in Performance Evaluation: The Case of the FIFA’s Best Soccer Player Award," Working Papers in Economics 16/24, University of Canterbury, Department of Economics and Finance.
    12. Michel Balinski & Rida Laraki, 2010. "Judge:Don't Vote!," Working Papers hal-00536968, HAL.
    13. Martén, Linna, 2015. "Political Bias in Court? Lay Judges and Asylum Appeals," Working Paper Series 2015:2, Uppsala University, Department of Economics.
    14. repec:spr:annopr:v:253:y:2017:i:1:d:10.1007_s10479-016-2341-y is not listed on IDEAS
    15. Moul, Charles C. & Nye, John V.C., 2009. "Did the Soviets collude? A statistical analysis of championship chess 1940-1978," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 70(1-2), pages 10-21, May.
    16. Hillary N. Morgan & Kurt W. Rotthoff, 2014. "The Harder The Task, The Higher The Score: Findings Of A Difficulty Bias," Economic Inquiry, Western Economic Association International, vol. 52(3), pages 1014-1026, July.

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