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Contests For Status

Author

Listed:
  • Benny Moldovanu

    () (Department of Economics, University of Bonn, Lennestr. 37, 53113 Bonn, Germany)

  • Aner Sela

    () (BGU)

  • Xianwen Shi

    () (Department of Economics, Yale University, New Haven, CT 06511, USA)

Abstract

We study the optimal design of organizations under the assumption that agents in a contest care about their relative position. A judicious de?nition of status categories can be used by a principal in order to in?uence the agents?performance. We first consider a pure status case where there are no tangible prizes. Our main results connect the optimal partition in status categories to properties of the distribution of ability among contestants. The top status category always contains an unique element. For distributions of abilities that have an increasing failure rate (IFR), a proliferation of status classes is optimal, while the optimal partition involves some coarseness in other cases. Moreover, for IFR distributions, a coarse partition with only two status categories achieves at least half of the output obtained in the optimal partition with a proliferation of classes. Finally, we modify the model to allow for status categories that are endogenously determined by monetary prizes of different sizes. If status is solely derived from monetary rewards, we show that the optimal partition in status classes contains only two categories.

Suggested Citation

  • Benny Moldovanu & Aner Sela & Xianwen Shi, 2006. "Contests For Status," Working Papers 0604, Ben-Gurion University of the Negev, Department of Economics.
  • Handle: RePEc:bgu:wpaper:0604
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    References listed on IDEAS

    as
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