IDEAS home Printed from https://ideas.repec.org/a/inm/ormnsc/v66y2020i10p4359-4377.html
   My bibliography  Save this article

On the Role of Group Size in Tournaments: Theory and Evidence from Laboratory and Field Experiments

Author

Listed:
  • John A. List

    (University of Chicago, Chicago, Illinois 60637; National Bureau of Economic Research, Cambridge, Massachusetts 02138;)

  • Daan van Soest

    (Tilburg University, 5037 AB Tilburg, Netherlands;)

  • Jan Stoop

    (Erasmus University, 3000 DR Rotterdam, Netherlands;)

  • Haiwen Zhou

    (Old Dominion University, Norfolk, Virginia 23529)

Abstract

We explore how individual equilibrium effort in tournaments varies with the number of contestants. The probability of winning a tournament depends on both effort and luck, and we show that the distribution of the luck component is critical in determining individual equilibrium effort. Our theory predicts that equilibrium effort is an increasing (decreasing) function of the number of contestants if there is considerable (little) mass on favorable draws. We test our theory using both laboratory and field experiments, and find substantial support for our theory in both settings.

Suggested Citation

  • John A. List & Daan van Soest & Jan Stoop & Haiwen Zhou, 2020. "On the Role of Group Size in Tournaments: Theory and Evidence from Laboratory and Field Experiments," Management Science, INFORMS, vol. 66(10), pages 4359-4377, October.
  • Handle: RePEc:inm:ormnsc:v:66:y:2020:i:10:p:4359-4377
    DOI: 10.1287/mnsc.2019.3441
    as

    Download full text from publisher

    File URL: https://doi.org/10.1287/mnsc.2019.3441
    Download Restriction: no

    File URL: https://libkey.io/10.1287/mnsc.2019.3441?utm_source=ideas
    LibKey link: if access is restricted and if your library uses this service, LibKey will redirect you to where you can use your library subscription to access this item
    ---><---

    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. Kevin J. Boudreau & Karim R. Lakhani & Michael Menietti, 2016. "Performance responses to competition across skill levels in rank-order tournaments: field evidence and implications for tournament design," RAND Journal of Economics, RAND Corporation, vol. 47(1), pages 140-165, February.
    3. Lugovskyy, Volodymyr & Puzzello, Daniela & Tucker, Steven, 2010. "An experimental investigation of overdissipation in the all pay auction," European Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 54(8), pages 974-997, November.
    4. Canice Prendergast, 1999. "The Provision of Incentives in Firms," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 37(1), pages 7-63, March.
    5. Alannah Orrison & Andrew Schotter & Keith Weigelt, 2004. "Multiperson Tournaments: An Experimental Examination," Management Science, INFORMS, vol. 50(2), pages 268-279, February.
    6. Simpson, R David & Sedjo, Roger A & Reid, John W, 1996. "Valuing Biodiversity for Use in Pharmaceutical Research," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 104(1), pages 163-185, February.
    7. Orszag, Jonathan M., 1994. "A new look at incentive effects and golf tournaments," Economics Letters, Elsevier, vol. 46(1), pages 77-88, September.
    8. Green, Jerry R & Stokey, Nancy L, 1983. "A Comparison of Tournaments and Contracts," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 91(3), pages 349-364, June.
    9. 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.
    10. Eriksson, Tor, 1999. "Executive Compensation and Tournament Theory: Empirical Tests on Danish Data," Journal of Labor Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 17(2), pages 262-280, April.
    11. Yeon-Koo Che & Ian Gale, 2003. "Optimal Design of Research Contests," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 93(3), pages 646-671, June.
    12. Kevin J. Boudreau & Nicola Lacetera & Karim R. Lakhani, 2011. "Incentives and Problem Uncertainty in Innovation Contests: An Empirical Analysis," Management Science, INFORMS, vol. 57(5), pages 843-863, May.
    13. 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.
    14. Glenn C. Loury, 1979. "Market Structure and Innovation," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 93(3), pages 395-410.
    15. Ehrenberg, Ronald G & Bognanno, Michael L, 1990. "Do Tournaments Have Incentive Effects?," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 98(6), pages 1307-1324, December.
    16. Bengt Holmstrom, 1982. "Moral Hazard in Teams," Bell Journal of Economics, The RAND Corporation, vol. 13(2), pages 324-340, Autumn.
    17. 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.
    18. William Chan & Pascal Courty & Li Hao, 2009. "Suspense: Dynamic Incentives in Sports Contests," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 119(534), pages 24-46, January.
    19. Neugebauer, Tibor & Selten, Reinhard, 2006. "Individual behavior of first-price auctions: The importance of information feedback in computerized experimental markets," Games and Economic Behavior, Elsevier, vol. 54(1), pages 183-204, January.
    20. John A. List, 2004. "The Nature and Extent of Discrimination in the Marketplace: Evidence from the Field," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 119(1), pages 49-89.
    21. Lorne Carmichael, 1983. "Firm-Specific Human Capital and Promotion Ladders," Bell Journal of Economics, The RAND Corporation, vol. 14(1), pages 251-258, Spring.
    22. Main, Brian G M & O'Reilly, Charles A, III & Wade, James, 1993. "Top Executive Pay: Tournament or Teamwork?," Journal of Labor Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 11(4), pages 606-628, October.
    23. Pablo Casas-Arce & F. Asís Martínez-Jerez, 2009. "Relative Performance Compensation, Contests, and Dynamic Incentives," Management Science, INFORMS, vol. 55(8), pages 1306-1320, August.
    24. Brownback, Andy, 2018. "A classroom experiment on effort allocation under relative grading," Economics of Education Review, Elsevier, vol. 62(C), pages 113-128.
    25. Harbring, Christine & Irlenbusch, Bernd, 2003. "An experimental study on tournament design," Labour Economics, Elsevier, vol. 10(4), pages 443-464, August.
    26. Bull, Clive & Schotter, Andrew & Weigelt, Keith, 1987. "Tournaments and Piece Rates: An Experimental Study," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 95(1), pages 1-33, February.
    27. Yigal Gerchak & Qi-Ming He, 2003. "When will the Range of Prizes in Tournaments Increase in the Noise or in the Number of Players?," International Game Theory Review (IGTR), World Scientific Publishing Co. Pte. Ltd., vol. 5(02), pages 151-165.
    28. Hua Chen & Sung H. Ham & Noah Lim, 2011. "Designing Multiperson Tournaments with Asymmetric Contestants: An Experimental Study," Management Science, INFORMS, vol. 57(5), pages 864-883, May.
    29. Tibor Neugebauer & Javier Perote, 2008. "Bidding ‘as if’ risk neutral in experimental first price auctions without information feedback," Experimental Economics, Springer;Economic Science Association, vol. 11(2), pages 190-202, June.
    30. Malcomson, James M, 1984. "Work Incentives, Hierarchy, and Internal Labor Markets," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 92(3), pages 486-507, June.
    31. Barry J. Nalebuff & Joseph E. Stiglitz, 1983. "Prices and Incentives: Towards a General Theory of Compensation and Competition," Bell Journal of Economics, The RAND Corporation, vol. 14(1), pages 21-43, Spring.
    Full references (including those not matched with items on IDEAS)

    Citations

    Citations are extracted by the CitEc Project, subscribe to its RSS feed for this item.
    as


    Cited by:

    1. Daniel Houser & Jian Song, 2021. "Asymmetric Shocks in Contests: Theory and Experiment," Working Papers 1081, George Mason University, Interdisciplinary Center for Economic Science.

    Most related items

    These are the items that most often cite the same works as this one and are cited by the same works as this one.
    1. 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.
    2. John List & Daan Van Soest & Jan Stoop & Haiwen Zhou, 2014. "On the Role of Group Size in Tournaments: Theory and Evidence from Lab and Field Experiments," NBER Working Papers 20008, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    3. Tor Eriksson & Sabrina Teyssier & Marie‐Claire Villeval, 2009. "Self‐Selection And The Efficiency Of Tournaments," Economic Inquiry, Western Economic Association International, vol. 47(3), pages 530-548, July.
    4. Tor Eriksson & Sabrina Teyssier & Marie Claire Villeval, 2006. "Effort Self-Selection and the Efficiency of Tournaments," Post-Print halshs-00142876, HAL.
    5. Dutcher, E. Glenn & Balafoutas, Loukas & Lindner, Florian & Ryvkin, Dmitry & Sutter, Matthias, 2015. "Strive to be first or avoid being last: An experiment on relative performance incentives," Games and Economic Behavior, Elsevier, vol. 94(C), pages 39-56.
    6. repec:eee:labchp:v:3:y:1999:i:pb:p:2373-2437 is not listed on IDEAS
    7. 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.
    8. Sun, Sophia Li & Habib, Ahsan, 2020. "Determinants and consequences of tournament incentives: A survey of the literature in accounting and finance," Research in International Business and Finance, Elsevier, vol. 54(C).
    9. Loukas Balafoutas & E. Glenn Dutcher & Florian Lindner & Dmitry Ryvkin, 2017. "The Optimal Allocation Of Prizes In Tournaments Of Heterogeneous Agents," Economic Inquiry, Western Economic Association International, vol. 55(1), pages 461-478, January.
    10. De Paola, Maria & Gioia, Francesca & Scoppa, Vincenzo, 2018. "The adverse consequences of tournaments: Evidence from a field experiment," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 151(C), pages 1-18.
    11. Bedard, Kelly & Fischer, Stefanie, 2019. "Does the response to competition depend on perceived ability? Evidence from a classroom experiment," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 159(C), pages 146-166.
    12. Josse Delfgaauw & Robert Dur & Arjan Non & Willem Verbeke, 2015. "The Effects of Prize Spread and Noise in Elimination Tournaments: A Natural Field Experiment," Journal of Labor Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 33(3), pages 521-569.
    13. Fares, M'hand & Orozco, Luis, 2014. "Tournament Mechanism in Wine-Grape Contracts: Evidence from a French Wine Cooperative," Journal of Wine Economics, Cambridge University Press, vol. 9(3), pages 320-345, December.
    14. Kräkel, Matthias & Nieken, Petra, 2015. "Relative performance pay in the shadow of crisis," European Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 74(C), pages 244-268.
    15. Harbring, Christine & Irlenbusch, Bernd, 2008. "How many winners are good to have?: On tournaments with sabotage," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 65(3-4), pages 682-702, March.
    16. Donald Vandegrift & Abdullah Yavas & Paul Brown, 2007. "Incentive effects and overcrowding in tournaments: An experimental analysis," Experimental Economics, Springer;Economic Science Association, vol. 10(4), pages 345-368, December.
    17. Harbring, Christine & Irlenbusch, Bernd, 2005. "How Many Winners Are Good to Have? On Tournaments with Sabotage," IZA Discussion Papers 1777, Institute of Labor Economics (IZA).
    18. Harbring, Christine & Irlenbusch, Bernd, 2003. "An experimental study on tournament design," Labour Economics, Elsevier, vol. 10(4), pages 443-464, August.
    19. Waldman, Michael, 2013. "Classic promotion tournaments versus market-based tournaments," International Journal of Industrial Organization, Elsevier, vol. 31(3), pages 198-210.
    20. Jed DeVaro & Antti Kauhanen, 2016. "An “Opposing Responses” Test of Classic versus Market-Based Promotion Tournaments," Journal of Labor Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 34(3), pages 747-779.
    21. Gill, David & Stone, Rebecca, 2010. "Fairness and desert in tournaments," Games and Economic Behavior, Elsevier, vol. 69(2), pages 346-364, July.

    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:inm:ormnsc:v:66:y:2020:i:10:p:4359-4377. 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: . General contact details of provider: https://edirc.repec.org/data/inforea.html .

    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 bibliographic 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.

    For technical questions regarding this item, or to correct its authors, title, abstract, bibliographic or download information, contact: Matthew Walls (email available below). General contact details of provider: https://edirc.repec.org/data/inforea.html .

    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.