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Sabotage in Tournaments: Evidence from a Natural Experiment

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Listed:
  • Loukas Balafoutas
  • Florian Lindner
  • Matthias Sutter

Abstract

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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Suggested Citation

  • Loukas Balafoutas & Florian Lindner & Matthias Sutter, 2012. "Sabotage in Tournaments: Evidence from a Natural Experiment," Kyklos, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 65(4), pages 425-441, November.
  • Handle: RePEc:bla:kyklos:v:65:y:2012:i:4:p:425-441
    DOI: 10.1111/kykl.2012.65.issue-4
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. Gary Charness & David Masclet & Marie-Claire Villeval, 2010. "Competitive Preferences and Status as an Incentive : Experimental Evidence," Working Papers 1016, Groupe d'Analyse et de Théorie Economique Lyon St-Étienne (GATE Lyon St-Étienne), Université de Lyon.
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    3. 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.
    4. Christine Harbring & Bernd Irlenbusch, 2011. "Sabotage in Tournaments: Evidence from a Laboratory Experiment," Management Science, INFORMS, vol. 57(4), pages 611-627, April.
    5. Christine Harbring & Bernd Irlenbusch, 2005. "Incentives in Tournaments with Endogenous Prize Selection," Journal of Institutional and Theoretical Economics (JITE), Mohr Siebeck, Tübingen, vol. 161(4), pages 636-636, December.
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    7. Lazear, Edward P, 1989. "Pay Equality and Industrial Politics," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 97(3), pages 561-580, June.
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    11. Kong-Pin Chen, 2003. "Sabotage in Promotion Tournaments," Journal of Law, Economics, and Organization, Oxford University Press, vol. 19(1), pages 119-140, April.
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    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • C93 - Mathematical and Quantitative Methods - - Design of Experiments - - - Field Experiments
    • D03 - Microeconomics - - General - - - Behavioral Microeconomics: Underlying Principles
    • L83 - Industrial Organization - - Industry Studies: Services - - - Sports; Gambling; Restaurants; Recreation; Tourism
    • M51 - Business Administration and Business Economics; Marketing; Accounting; Personnel Economics - - Personnel Economics - - - Firm Employment Decisions; Promotions
    • M52 - Business Administration and Business Economics; Marketing; Accounting; Personnel Economics - - Personnel Economics - - - Compensation and Compensation Methods and Their Effects

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