IDEAS home Printed from https://ideas.repec.org/a/eee/jeborg/v150y2018icp114-131.html
   My bibliography  Save this article

Contests as selection mechanisms: The impact of risk aversion

Author

Listed:
  • March, Christoph
  • Sahm, Marco

Abstract

We investigate how individual risk preferences affect the likelihood of selecting the more able contestant within a two-player Tullock contest. Our theoretical model yields two main predictions: First, an increase in the risk aversion of a player worsens her odds unless she already has a sufficiently large advantage. Second, if the prize money is sufficiently large, a less able but less risk averse contestant can achieve an equal or even higher probability of winning than a more able but more risk averse opponent. In a laboratory experiment we confirm both, the non-monotonic impact and the compensating effect of risk aversion on winning probabilities. Our results suggest a novel explanation for the gender gap and the optimality of limited monetary incentives in selection contests.

Suggested Citation

  • March, Christoph & Sahm, Marco, 2018. "Contests as selection mechanisms: The impact of risk aversion," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 150(C), pages 114-131.
  • Handle: RePEc:eee:jeborg:v:150:y:2018:i:c:p:114-131
    DOI: 10.1016/j.jebo.2018.03.020
    as

    Download full text from publisher

    File URL: http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0167268118300945
    Download Restriction: Full text for ScienceDirect subscribers only

    As the access to this document is restricted, you may want to search for a different version of it.

    References listed on IDEAS

    as
    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 841-864, October.
    2. Curtis R. Price & Roman M. Sheremeta, 2015. "Endowment Origin, Demographic Effects, and Individual Preferences in Contests," Journal of Economics & Management Strategy, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 24(3), pages 597-619, September.
    3. Konrad, Kai A., 2009. "Strategy and Dynamics in Contests," OUP Catalogue, Oxford University Press, number 9780199549603.
    4. Richard Cornes & Roger Hartley, 2012. "Risk aversion in symmetric and asymmetric contests," Economic Theory, Springer;Society for the Advancement of Economic Theory (SAET), vol. 51(2), pages 247-275, October.
    5. Nicolas Treich, 2010. "Risk-aversion and prudence in rent-seeking games," Public Choice, Springer, vol. 145(3), pages 339-349, December.
    6. Hillman, Arye L & Katz, Eliakim, 1984. "Risk-Averse Rent Seekers and the Social Cost of Monopoly Power," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 94(373), pages 104-110, March.
    7. Hans K. Hvide, 2002. "Tournament Rewards and Risk Taking," Journal of Labor Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 20(4), pages 877-898, October.
    8. Paglin, Morton & Rufolo, Anthony M, 1990. "Heterogeneous Human Capital, Occupational Choice, and Male-Female Earnings Differences," Journal of Labor Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 8(1), pages 123-144, January.
    9. Takeshi Yamazaki, 2009. "The uniqueness of pure-strategy Nash equilibrium in rent-seeking games with risk-averse players," Public Choice, Springer, vol. 139(3), pages 335-342, June.
    10. Atanu Saha, 1993. "Expo-Power Utility: A ‘Flexible’ Form for Absolute and Relative Risk Aversion," American Journal of Agricultural Economics, Agricultural and Applied Economics Association, vol. 75(4), pages 905-913.
    11. Charles A. Holt & Susan K. Laury, 2005. "Risk Aversion and Incentive Effects: New Data without Order Effects," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 95(3), pages 902-912, June.
    12. Matthew Rabin, 2000. "Risk Aversion and Expected-Utility Theory: A Calibration Theorem," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 68(5), pages 1281-1292, September.
    13. James W. Bono, 2008. "Sales contests, promotion decisions and heterogeneous risk," Managerial and Decision Economics, John Wiley & Sons, Ltd., vol. 29(4), pages 371-382.
    14. Charles N. Noussair & Stefan T. Trautmann & Gijs van de Kuilen, 2014. "Higher Order Risk Attitudes, Demographics, and Financial Decisions," Review of Economic Studies, Oxford University Press, vol. 81(1), pages 325-355.
    15. Roman M. Sheremeta, 2011. "Contest Design: An Experimental Investigation," Economic Inquiry, Western Economic Association International, vol. 49(2), pages 573-590, April.
    16. Runkel, Marco, 2006. "Total effort, competitive balance and the optimal contest success function," European Journal of Political Economy, Elsevier, vol. 22(4), pages 1009-1013, December.
    17. March, Christoph & Sahm, Marco, 2017. "Asymmetric discouragement in asymmetric contests," Economics Letters, Elsevier, vol. 151(C), pages 23-27.
    18. Stergios Skaperdas, 1996. "Contest success functions (*)," Economic Theory, Springer;Society for the Advancement of Economic Theory (SAET), vol. 7(2), pages 283-290.
    19. Charles A. Holt & Susan K. Laury, 2002. "Risk Aversion and Incentive Effects," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 92(5), pages 1644-1655, December.
    20. Mago, Shakun D. & Sheremeta, Roman M. & Yates, Andrew, 2013. "Best-of-three contest experiments: Strategic versus psychological momentum," International Journal of Industrial Organization, Elsevier, vol. 31(3), pages 287-296.
    21. Lisa Anderson & Beth Freeborn, 2010. "Varying the intensity of competition in a multiple prize rent seeking experiment," Public Choice, Springer, vol. 143(1), pages 237-254, April.
    22. repec:eee:jeborg:v:138:y:2017:i:c:p:69-84 is not listed on IDEAS
    23. Kimbrough, Erik O. & Sheremeta, Roman M. & Shields, Timothy W., 2014. "When parity promotes peace: Resolving conflict between asymmetric agents," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 99(C), pages 96-108.
    24. Skaperdas, Stergios & Gan, Li, 1995. "Risk Aversion in Contests," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 105(431), pages 951-962, July.
    25. Roman M. Sheremeta, 2013. "Overbidding And Heterogeneous Behavior In Contest Experiments," Journal of Economic Surveys, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 27(3), pages 491-514, July.
    26. Emmanuel Dechenaux & Dan Kovenock & Roman Sheremeta, 2015. "A survey of experimental research on contests, all-pay auctions and tournaments," Experimental Economics, Springer;Economic Science Association, vol. 18(4), pages 609-669, December.
    27. Sahm, Marco, 2017. "Risk aversion and prudence in contests," BERG Working Paper Series 120, Bamberg University, Bamberg Economic Research Group.
    28. Urs Fischbacher, 2007. "z-Tree: Zurich toolbox for ready-made economic experiments," Experimental Economics, Springer;Economic Science Association, vol. 10(2), pages 171-178, June.
    29. Scott M Gilpatric, 2009. "Risk Taking In Contests And The Role Of Carrots And Sticks," Economic Inquiry, Western Economic Association International, vol. 47(2), pages 266-277, April.
    30. Wiji Arulampalam & Alison L. Booth & Mark L. Bryan, 2007. "Is There a Glass Ceiling over Europe? Exploring the Gender Pay Gap across the Wage Distribution," ILR Review, Cornell University, ILR School, vol. 60(2), pages 163-186, January.
    31. repec:ebl:ecbull:eb-17-00215 is not listed on IDEAS
    32. Marco Runkel, 2006. "Optimal contest design, closeness and the contest success function," Public Choice, Springer, vol. 129(1), pages 217-231, October.
    33. Leininger, Wolfgang, 1993. "More Efficient Rent-Seeking--A Munchhausen Solution," Public Choice, Springer, vol. 75(1), pages 43-62, January.
    34. Marianne Bertrand & Kevin F. Hallock, 2001. "The Gender Gap in Top Corporate Jobs," ILR Review, Cornell University, ILR School, vol. 55(1), pages 3-21, October.
    35. Fonseca, Miguel A., 2009. "An experimental investigation of asymmetric contests," International Journal of Industrial Organization, Elsevier, vol. 27(5), pages 582-591, September.
    36. James Albrecht & Anders Bjorklund & Susan Vroman, 2003. "Is There a Glass Ceiling in Sweden?," Journal of Labor Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 21(1), pages 145-177, January.
    37. Louis Eeckhoudt & Christian Gollier, 2005. "The impact of prudence on optimal prevention," Economic Theory, Springer;Society for the Advancement of Economic Theory (SAET), vol. 26(4), pages 989-994, November.
    38. Hvide, Hans K. & Kristiansen, Eirik G., 2003. "Risk taking in selection contests," Games and Economic Behavior, Elsevier, vol. 42(1), pages 172-179, January.
    39. Millner, Edward L & Pratt, Michael D, 1991. "Risk Aversion and Rent-Seeking: An Extension and Some Experimental Evidence," Public Choice, Springer, vol. 69(1), pages 81-92, February.
    40. Marco Sahm, 2017. "Risk Aversion and Prudence in Contests," CESifo Working Paper Series 6417, CESifo Group Munich.
    41. Takeshi Yamazaki, 2008. "On the Existence and Uniqueness of Pure-Strategy Nash Equilibrium in Asymmetric Rent-Seeking Contests," Journal of Public Economic Theory, Association for Public Economic Theory, vol. 10(2), pages 317-327, April.
    42. Cornes, Richard & Hartley, Roger, 2003. "Risk Aversion, Heterogeneity and Contests," Public Choice, Springer, vol. 117(1-2), pages 1-25, October.
    43. Rachel Croson & Uri Gneezy, 2009. "Gender Differences in Preferences," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 47(2), pages 448-474, June.
    44. Glenn W. Harrison & Eric Johnson & Melayne M. McInnes & E. Elisabet Rutström, 2005. "Risk Aversion and Incentive Effects: Comment," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 95(3), pages 897-901, June.
    45. Konrad, Kai A & Schlesinger, Harris, 1997. "Risk Aversion in Rent-Seeking and Rent-Augmenting Games," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 107(445), pages 1671-1683, November.
    46. Lisa Anderson & Beth Freeborn, 2010. "Erratum to: Varying the intensity of competition in a multiple prize rent seeking experiment," Public Choice, Springer, vol. 143(1), pages 255-256, April.
    Full references (including those not matched with items on IDEAS)

    More about this item

    Keywords

    Selection contest; Risk aversion; Competitive balance; Gender gap;

    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
    • J31 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Wages, Compensation, and Labor Costs - - - Wage Level and Structure; Wage Differentials
    • K41 - Law and Economics - - Legal Procedure, the Legal System, and Illegal Behavior - - - Litigation Process
    • 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

    Statistics

    Access and download statistics

    Corrections

    All material on this site has been provided by the respective publishers and authors. You can help correct errors and omissions. When requesting a correction, please mention this item's handle: RePEc:eee:jeborg:v:150:y:2018:i:c:p:114-131. See general information about how to correct material in RePEc.

    For technical questions regarding this item, or to correct its authors, title, abstract, bibliographic or download information, contact: (Dana Niculescu). General contact details of provider: http://www.elsevier.com/locate/jebo .

    If you have authored this item and are not yet registered with RePEc, we encourage you to do it here. This allows to link your profile to this item. It also allows you to accept potential citations to this item that we are uncertain about.

    If CitEc recognized a reference but did not link an item in RePEc to it, you can help with this form .

    If you know of missing items citing this one, you can help us creating those links by adding the relevant references in the same way as above, for each refering item. If you are a registered author of this item, you may also want to check the "citations" tab in your RePEc Author Service profile, as there may be some citations waiting for confirmation.

    Please note that corrections may take a couple of weeks to filter through the various RePEc services.

    IDEAS is a RePEc service hosted by the Research Division of the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis . RePEc uses bibliographic data supplied by the respective publishers.