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Sabotage in Tournaments: Evidence from a Natural Experiment

  • Loukas Balafoutas
  • Florian Lindner
  • Matthias Sutter

Many tournaments are plagued by sabotage among competitors. Typically, sabotage is welfare-reducing, but from an individual’s perspective an attractive alternative to exerting positive effort. Yet, given its illegal and often immoral nature, sabotage is typically hidden, making it difficult to assess its extent and its victims. Therefore, we use data from Judo World Championships, where a rule change in 2009 basically constituted a natural experiment that introduced one costless opportunity for sabotage. In Judo, competitors can break an opponent’s attack in an unsportsmanlike manner; these are seen as acts of sabotage. Based on a unique dataset of 1,422 fights, we find that the rule change in 2009 has led to a large increase in the use of sabotage. Moreover, sabotage is more likely to be employed by relatively less qualified individuals, and to be targeted at more qualified ones. From a survey among spectators, we show that sabotage is welfare reducing.

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File URL: http://hdl.handle.net/10.1111/10.1111/kykl.2012.65.issue-4
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Article provided by Wiley Blackwell in its journal Kyklos.

Volume (Year): 65 (2012)
Issue (Month): 4 (November)
Pages: 425-441

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Handle: RePEc:bla:kyklos:v:65:y:2012:i:4:p:425-441
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  1. Carpenter, Jeffrey P. & Matthews, Peter Hans & Schirm, John, 2007. "Tournaments and Office Politics: Evidence from a Real Effort Experiment," IZA Discussion Papers 2972, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
  2. Lazear, Edward P, 1989. "Pay Equality and Industrial Politics," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 97(3), pages 561-80, June.
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  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. Glenn Harrison & John List, 2004. "Field experiments," Artefactual Field Experiments 00058, The Field Experiments Website.
  8. Christine Harbring & Bernd Irlenbusch, 2011. "Sabotage in Tournaments: Evidence from a Laboratory Experiment," Management Science, INFORMS, vol. 57(4), pages 611-627, April.
  9. Julio del Corral & Juan Prieto-Rodriguez & Rob Simmons, 2010. "The Effect of Incentives on Sabotage: The Case of Spanish Football," Journal of Sports Economics, , vol. 11(3), pages 243-260, June.
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