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Pedaling peers: The effect of targets on performance


  • Baldauf, Markus
  • Mollner, Joshua


Individuals facing competitive targets increase their effort but respond non-monotonically to the target’s difficulty. We use a novel dataset of informal amateur cycling competitions to track the responses of individuals to competitively-set targets (in the form of displacement from the top of a leaderboard). Modeling the choice problem of these individuals, we derive a set of testable hypotheses. We find, as predicted by the model, that individuals compete sooner and more intensely after displacement. As our main result, we find an inverted-U relationship between the increase in effort and the size of the displacement.

Suggested Citation

  • Baldauf, Markus & Mollner, Joshua, 2019. "Pedaling peers: The effect of targets on performance," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 167(C), pages 90-103.
  • Handle: RePEc:eee:jeborg:v:167:y:2019:i:c:p:90-103
    DOI: 10.1016/j.jebo.2019.09.018

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    More about this item


    Rank incentives; Targets; Peer competition; Effort choice;

    JEL classification:

    • J22 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demand and Supply of Labor - - - Time Allocation and Labor Supply
    • M52 - Business Administration and Business Economics; Marketing; Accounting; Personnel Economics - - Personnel Economics - - - Compensation and Compensation Methods and Their Effects


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