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Optimal prize-rationing strategy in all-pay contests with incomplete information

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  • Liu, Xuyuan
  • Lu, Jingfeng

Abstract

A contest organizer (e.g., a government regulatory agency) is endowed with the capacity to provide unlimited homogeneous prizes (e.g., medals) that he can use to incentivize contestants to exert productive effort in an all-pay auction with incomplete information. Each agent, at most, wins one prize. We study the optimal number of prizes the organizer should grant in order to induce maximal expected total effort or expected highest effort from agents. Both are single peaked under mild regularity conditions. When players’ abilities follow a family of beta distributions, expected highest effort maximization requires a smaller set of prizes to be awarded; for both goals, the optimal number of prizes weakly increases when the pool of contestants expands or contestant quality improves.

Suggested Citation

  • Liu, Xuyuan & Lu, Jingfeng, 2017. "Optimal prize-rationing strategy in all-pay contests with incomplete information," International Journal of Industrial Organization, Elsevier, vol. 50(C), pages 57-90.
  • Handle: RePEc:eee:indorg:v:50:y:2017:i:c:p:57-90
    DOI: 10.1016/j.ijindorg.2016.10.004
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. Benny Moldovanu & Aner Sela, 2001. "The Optimal Allocation of Prizes in Contests," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 91(3), pages 542-558, June.
    2. Emmanuel Dechenaux & Dan Kovenock, 2011. "Endogenous rationing, price dispersion and collusion in capacity constrained supergames," Economic Theory, Springer;Society for the Advancement of Economic Theory (SAET), vol. 47(1), pages 29-74, May.
    3. Moldovanu, Benny & Sela, Aner, 2006. "Contest architecture," Journal of Economic Theory, Elsevier, vol. 126(1), pages 70-96, January.
    4. Allen, Franklin & Faulhaber, Gerald R, 1991. "Rational Rationing," Economica, London School of Economics and Political Science, vol. 58(230), pages 189-198, May.
    5. Faravelli, Marco & Stanca, Luca, 2012. "When less is more: Rationing and rent dissipation in stochastic contests," Games and Economic Behavior, Elsevier, vol. 74(1), pages 170-183.
    6. Richard J. Gilbert & Paul Klemperer, 2000. "An Equilibrium Theory of Rationing," RAND Journal of Economics, The RAND Corporation, vol. 31(1), pages 1-21, Spring.
    7. Leonid Polishchuk & Alexander Tonis, 2013. "Endogenous contest success functions: a mechanism design approach," Economic Theory, Springer;Society for the Advancement of Economic Theory (SAET), vol. 52(1), pages 271-297, January.
    8. Barut, Yasar & Kovenock, Dan, 1998. "The symmetric multiple prize all-pay auction with complete information," European Journal of Political Economy, Elsevier, vol. 14(4), pages 627-644, November.
    9. Stiglitz, Joseph E & Weiss, Andrew, 1981. "Credit Rationing in Markets with Imperfect Information," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 71(3), pages 393-410, June.
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    11. Krishna, Vijay & Morgan, John, 1997. "An Analysis of the War of Attrition and the All-Pay Auction," Journal of Economic Theory, Elsevier, vol. 72(2), pages 343-362, February.
    12. Liu, Xuyuan & Lu, Jingfeng, 2014. "The effort-maximizing contest with heterogeneous prizes," Economics Letters, Elsevier, vol. 125(3), pages 422-425.
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    More about this item

    Keywords

    Multi-prize contest; Prize rationing; All-pay auction; Incomplete information;

    JEL classification:

    • C72 - Mathematical and Quantitative Methods - - Game Theory and Bargaining Theory - - - Noncooperative Games
    • D72 - Microeconomics - - Analysis of Collective Decision-Making - - - Political Processes: Rent-seeking, Lobbying, Elections, Legislatures, and Voting Behavior
    • D74 - Microeconomics - - Analysis of Collective Decision-Making - - - Conflict; Conflict Resolution; Alliances; Revolutions

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