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The Incentive Effects of Tournaments Revisited: Evidence from the European PGA Tour


  • Ronald G. Ehrenberg
  • Michael L. Bognanno


This analysis of data from the 1987 European Men's Professional Golf Association (PGA) Tour strongly supports the hypothesis that the level and structure of prizes in PGA tournaments influence players' performance. Specifically, players' performance appears to vary positively with both the total money prizes awarded in a tournament and the marginal return to effort in the final round of play (a value that varies among players largely depending on how the prize money is allocated among finishers of different ranks). The authors suggest that these results, together with the similar results of their earlier study of the 1984 U.S. Men's PGA Tour, may have implications for the design of compensation systems for certain groups of workers, such as corporate executives, college professors, and salespeople.

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  • Ronald G. Ehrenberg & Michael L. Bognanno, 1990. "The Incentive Effects of Tournaments Revisited: Evidence from the European PGA Tour," ILR Review, Cornell University, ILR School, vol. 43(3), pages 74, April.
  • Handle: RePEc:sae:ilrrev:v:43:y:1990:i:3:p:74-s-88-s

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    Cited by:

    1. 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.
    2. Wei Shi & Brian L. Connelly & Wm. Gerard Sanders, 2016. "Buying bad behavior: Tournament incentives and securities class action lawsuits," Strategic Management Journal, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 37(7), pages 1354-1378, July.
    3. Harbring, Christine & Irlenbusch, Bernd, 2004. "Incentives in Tournaments with Endogenous Prize Selection," IZA Discussion Papers 1340, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
    4. Quintero Jaramillo, Jose E., 2004. "Moral hazard in teams with limited punishments and multiple outputs," DEE - Working Papers. Business Economics. WB wb040705, Universidad Carlos III de Madrid. Departamento de Economía de la Empresa.
    5. Helena Fornwagner, 2017. "Incentives to lose revisited: The NHL and its tournament incentives," Working Papers 2017-07, Faculty of Economics and Statistics, University of Innsbruck.
    6. Bingley, P. & Eriksson, T, 2001. "Pay Spread and Skewness. Employee Effort and Firm Productivity," Papers 01-2, Aarhus School of Business - Department of Economics.
    7. Chan, William, 1996. "External Recruitment versus Internal Promotion," Journal of Labor Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 14(4), pages 555-570, October.
    8. Nieken, Petra & Stegh, Michael, 2010. "Incentive Effects in Asymmetric Tournaments Empirical Evidence from the German Hockey League," Discussion Paper Series of SFB/TR 15 Governance and the Efficiency of Economic Systems 305, Free University of Berlin, Humboldt University of Berlin, University of Bonn, University of Mannheim, University of Munich.
    9. Harbring, Christine & Irlenbusch, Bernd, 2005. "How Many Winners Are Good to Have? On Tournaments with Sabotage," IZA Discussion Papers 1777, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
    10. Robert Drago & Gerald T. Garvey, 1994. "Incentives for Helping on the Job: Theory and Evidence," Labor and Demography 9402002, EconWPA, revised 29 Mar 1994.
    11. Lawrence M. Kahn, 2000. "The Sports Business as a Labor Market Laboratory," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 14(3), pages 75-94, Summer.
    12. Tanaka, Ryuichi & Ishino, Kazutoshi, 2012. "Testing the incentive effects in tournaments with a superstar," Journal of the Japanese and International Economies, Elsevier, vol. 26(3), pages 393-404.
    13. Jason W. Ridge & Federico Aime & Margaret A. White, 2015. "When much more of a difference makes a difference: Social comparison and tournaments in the CEO's top team," Strategic Management Journal, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 36(4), pages 618-636, April.
    14. repec:eee:jobhdp:v:142:y:2017:i:c:p:1-11 is not listed on IDEAS
    15. Knoeber, Charles R & Thurman, Walter N, 1994. "Testing the Theory of Tournaments: An Empirical Analysis of Broiler Production," Journal of Labor Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 12(2), pages 155-179, April.
    16. Coupé, Tom & Smeets, Valerie & Warzynski, Frederic, 2003. "Incentives in Economic Departments: Testing Tournaments?," Working Papers 03-25, University of Aarhus, Aarhus School of Business, Department of Economics.
    17. repec:eee:labchp:v:3:y:1999:i:pb:p:2373-2437 is not listed on IDEAS
    18. Bodnaruk, Andriy & Simonov, Andrei, 2015. "Do financial experts make better investment decisions?," Journal of Financial Intermediation, Elsevier, vol. 24(4), pages 514-536.
    19. Chirok Han & Changhui Kang & Sam-Ho Lee, 2016. "Measuring Effort Incentives In A Tournament With Many Participants: Theory And Application," Economic Inquiry, Western Economic Association International, vol. 54(2), pages 1240-1250, April.
    20. repec:eee:corfin:v:44:y:2017:i:c:p:506-523 is not listed on IDEAS
    21. Douglas Coate & David Goldbaum, 2004. "Skills, Purses, and Performance in Professional Golf," Working Papers Rutgers University, Newark 2004-007, Department of Economics, Rutgers University, Newark.
    22. Bandiera, Oriana & Barankay, Iwan & Rasul, Imran, 2013. "Team incentives: evidence from a firm level," LSE Research Online Documents on Economics 53141, London School of Economics and Political Science, LSE Library.

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