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The optimal multi-stage contest

  • Qiang Fu

    ()

  • Jingfeng Lu

    ()

This paper investigates the optimal (effort-maximizing) structure of multi-stage sequential-elimination contests. We allow the contest organizer to design the contest structure using two instruments: contest sequence (the number of stages, and the number of contestants remaining after each stage), and prize allocation. When the contest technology is sufficiently noisy, we find that multi-stage contests elicit more effort than single-stage contests. For concave and moderately convex impact functions, the contest organizer should allocate the entire prize purse to a single final prize, regardless of the contest sequence. Additional stages always increase total effort. Therefore, the optimal contest eliminates one contestant at each stage until the finale when a single winner obtains the entire prize purse. Our results thus rationalize various forms of multi-stage contests that are conducted in the real world. Copyright Springer-Verlag 2012

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Article provided by Springer in its journal Economic Theory.

Volume (Year): 51 (2012)
Issue (Month): 2 (October)
Pages: 351-382

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Handle: RePEc:spr:joecth:v:51:y:2012:i:2:p:351-382
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  1. Barut, Yasar & Kovenock, Dan, 1998. "The symmetric multiple prize all-pay auction with complete information," European Journal of Political Economy, Elsevier, vol. 14(4), pages 627-644, November.
  2. Baye, M.R. & Kovenock, D. & De Vries, C.G., 1993. "The Solution to the Tullock Rent-Seeking Game when r>2: Mixed-Strategy Equilibria and Mean Dissipation Rates," Purdue University Economics Working Papers 1039, Purdue University, Department of Economics.
  3. Konrad, Kai A. & Kovenock, Dan, 2006. "Multi-battle contests," Discussion Paper Series of SFB/TR 15 Governance and the Efficiency of Economic Systems 122, Free University of Berlin, Humboldt University of Berlin, University of Bonn, University of Mannheim, University of Munich.
  4. Gradstein, Mark & Konrad, Kai A, 1999. "Orchestrating Rent Seeking Contests," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 109(458), pages 536-45, October.
  5. Benny Moldovanu & Aner Sela & Xianwen Shi, 2007. "Contests for Status," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 115, pages 338-363.
  6. Konrad, Kai A., 2007. "Strategy in contests: an introduction
    [Strategie in Turnieren – eine Einführung]
    ," Discussion Papers, Research Unit: Market Processes and Governance SP II 2007-01, Social Science Research Center Berlin (WZB).
  7. Moldovanu, Benny & Sela, Aner, 1999. "The Optimal Allocation of Prizes in Contests," Sonderforschungsbereich 504 Publications 99-75, Sonderforschungsbereich 504, Universität Mannheim;Sonderforschungsbereich 504, University of Mannheim.
  8. Skaperdas, Stergios, 1996. "Contest Success Functions," Economic Theory, Springer, vol. 7(2), pages 283-90, February.
  9. Baye, M.R. & Kovenock, D., 1993. "The Solution of the Tullock Rent-Seeking Game when R > 2 : Mixed-Strategy Equilibria and Mean Dissipation Rates," Discussion Paper 1993-68, Tilburg University, Center for Economic Research.
  10. Alexander Matros, 2006. "Elimination Tournaments where Players Have Fixed Resources," Working Papers 205, University of Pittsburgh, Department of Economics, revised Jan 2006.
  11. Sherwin Rosen, 1985. "Prizes and Incentives in Elimination Tournaments," NBER Working Papers 1668, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  12. Clark, Derek J. & Riis, Christian, 1998. "Influence and the discretionary allocation of several prizes," European Journal of Political Economy, Elsevier, vol. 14(4), pages 605-625, November.
  13. Clark, Derek J & Riis, Christian, 1998. "Competition over More Than One Prize," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 88(1), pages 276-89, March.
  14. Rick Harbaugh & Tilman Klumpp, 2005. "Early Round Upsets and Championship Blowouts," Economic Inquiry, Western Economic Association International, vol. 43(2), pages 316-329, April.
  15. Baye, M.R. & Kovenock, D. & De Vries, C.G., 1991. "Rigging The Lobbying Process: An Application Of The All- Pay Auction," Purdue University Economics Working Papers 1002, Purdue University, Department of Economics.
  16. repec:dgr:uvatin:19970045 is not listed on IDEAS
  17. Amegashie, J Atsu, 1999. " The Design of Rent-Seeking Competitions: Committees, Preliminary and Final Contests," Public Choice, Springer, vol. 99(1-2), pages 63-76, April.
  18. Richard L. Fullerton & R. Preston McAfee, 1999. "Auctioning Entry into Tournaments," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 107(3), pages 573-605, June.
  19. Amegashie, J Atsu, 2000. " Some Results on Rent-Seeking Contests with Shortlisting," Public Choice, Springer, vol. 105(3-4), pages 245-53, December.
  20. Clark, Derek J & Riis, Christian, 1996. " A Multi-winner Nested Rent-Seeking Contest," Public Choice, Springer, vol. 87(1-2), pages 177-84, April.
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