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An Experimental Test of Sabotage in Tournaments


  • Donald Vandegrift
  • Abdullah Yavas


We use a real-effort task to investigate the responsiveness of both sabotage and performance in a tournament to: (1) changes in the payoff structure of the tournament, and (2) changes in the identity of competitors over a series of tournaments (rematching versus constant pairings). Constant pairings shows significantly lower performance than rematching because of weak performance by low-ability participants. Constant pairings also depresses the rate at which participants choose sabotage, but causes higher sabotage levels given that the sabotage option is selected. Finally, sabotage is used far less effectively in the constant-pairings than it is in the rematching condition.

Suggested Citation

  • Donald Vandegrift & Abdullah Yavas, 2010. "An Experimental Test of Sabotage in Tournaments," Journal of Institutional and Theoretical Economics (JITE), Mohr Siebeck, Tübingen, vol. 166(2), pages 259-285, June.
  • Handle: RePEc:mhr:jinste:urn:sici:0932-4569(201006)166:2_259:aetosi_2.0.tx_2-3

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    References listed on IDEAS

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    Cited by:

    1. 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(03), pages 320-345, December.
    2. Dato, Simon & Nieken, Petra, 2014. "Gender differences in competition and sabotage," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 100(C), pages 64-80.
    3. Andreas Leibbrandt & Liang Choon Wang & Cordelia Foo, 2015. "Gender Quotas, Competitions, and Peer Review: Experimental Evidence on the Backlash Against Women," CESifo Working Paper Series 5526, CESifo Group Munich.
    4. Subhasish Chowdhury & Oliver Gürtler, 2015. "Sabotage in contests: a survey," Public Choice, Springer, vol. 164(1), pages 135-155, July.
    5. Jeffrey Flory & Andreas Leibbrandt & John List, 2016. "Wage Contracts and Workplace Misbehaviors," Natural Field Experiments 00583, The Field Experiments Website.
    6. Hammond, Robert G. & Zheng, Xiaoyong, 2013. "Heterogeneity in tournaments with incomplete information: An experimental analysis," International Journal of Industrial Organization, Elsevier, vol. 31(3), pages 248-260.
    7. Jeffrey A. Flory & Andreas Leibbrandt & John A. List, 2016. "The Effects of Wage Contracts on Workplace Misbehaviors: Evidence from a Call Center Natural Field Experiment," NBER Working Papers 22342, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    8. Jeffrey Flory & Andreas Leibbrandt & John List, 2017. "Using Behavioral Economics to Curb Workplace Misbehaviors: Evidence from a Natural Field Experiment," Natural Field Experiments 00617, The Field Experiments Website.

    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • D8 - Microeconomics - - Information, Knowledge, and Uncertainty
    • J3 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Wages, Compensation, and Labor Costs
    • L2 - Industrial Organization - - Firm Objectives, Organization, and Behavior


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