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Quitters Never Win: The (Adverse) Incentive Effects of Competing with Superstars

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  • Jennifer Brown

Abstract

Internal competition may motivate worker effort, yet the benefits of competition may depend critically on workers' relative abilities: large skill differences may reduce efforts. I use panel data from professional golf tournaments and find that the presence of a superstar is associated with lower performance. On average, golfers' first-round scores are approximately 0.2 strokes worse when Tiger Woods participates relative to when Woods is absent. The overall tournament effect is 0.8 strokes. The adverse superstar effect varies with the quality of Woods's play. There is no evidence that reduced performance is attributable to media attention intensity or risky strategy adoption.

Suggested Citation

  • Jennifer Brown, 2011. "Quitters Never Win: The (Adverse) Incentive Effects of Competing with Superstars," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 119(5), pages 982-1013.
  • Handle: RePEc:ucp:jpolec:doi:10.1086/663306
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. Konrad, Kai A., 2009. "Strategy and Dynamics in Contests," OUP Catalogue, Oxford University Press, number 9780199549603.
    2. Stein, William E, 2002. "Asymmetric Rent-Seeking with More Than Two Contestants," Public Choice, Springer, vol. 113(3-4), pages 325-336, December.
    3. Orszag, Jonathan M., 1994. "A new look at incentive effects and golf tournaments," Economics Letters, Elsevier, vol. 46(1), pages 77-88, September.
    4. 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.
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