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Incentives versus Sorting in Tournaments: Evidence from a Field Experiment

  • Edwin Leuven
  • Hessel Oosterbeek
  • Joep Sonnemans
  • Bas van der Klaauw

Existing field evidence on rank-order tournaments typically does not allow disentangling incentive and sorting effects. We conduct a field experiment illustrating the confounding effect. Students in an introductory microeconomics course selected themselves into tournaments with low, medium, or high prizes for the best score at the final exam. Nonexperimental analysis of the results would suggest that higher rewards induce higher productivity, but a comparison between treatment and control groups reveals that there is no such effect. This stresses the importance of nonrandom sorting into tournaments.

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File URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/full/10.1086/659345
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Article provided by University of Chicago Press in its journal Journal of Labor Economics.

Volume (Year): 29 (2011)
Issue (Month): 3 ()
Pages: 637 - 658

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Handle: RePEc:ucp:jlabec:doi:10.1086/659345
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