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Overdissipation and Convergence in Rent-seeking Experiments: Cost structure and prize allocation rules

  • Subhasish M. Chowdhury


    (School of Economics, and Centre for Behavioural and Experimental Social Science, University of East Anglia, Norwich)

  • Roman M. Sheremeta

    (Argyros School of Business and Economics, Chapman University, USA)

  • Theodore L. Turocy

    (School of Economics, and Centre for Behavioural and Experimental Social Science, University of East Anglia, Norwich)

We study experimentally the effects of cost structure and prize allocation rules on the performance of rent-seeking contests. Most previous studies use a lottery prize rule and linear cost, and find both overdissipation relative to Nash equilibrium prediction and significant variation in individual subject efforts. In a 2  2 design, we investigate the effects of sharing the prize proportionally and of a convex cost function, while holding fixed the Nash equilibrium prediction for effort. We find that the share rule results in average effort closer to the Nash prediction, lower variation in individual efforts, and convergence of the distribution of individual efforts towards Nash over time. Combining the share rule with a convex cost function further enhances these results. Our findings indicate that a significant amount of subjects’ non-equilibrium behavior in contests can be explained by features of the experimental design. These results contribute towards design guidelines for contests based on behavioral principles that take into account contest features that may not affect the Nash equilibrium prediction. These lessons suggest design guidelines for future experiments on contests.

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Paper provided by Chapman University, Economic Science Institute in its series Working Papers with number 12-13.

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Length: 34 pages
Date of creation: 2012
Date of revision:
Handle: RePEc:chu:wpaper:12-13
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  1. Roman M. Sheremeta, 2009. "Contest Design: An Experimental Investigation," Working Papers 09-05, Chapman University, Economic Science Institute.
  2. Benedikt Herrmann & Henrik Orzen, 2008. "The appearance of homo rivalis: Social preferences and the nature of rent seeking," Discussion Papers 2008-10, The Centre for Decision Research and Experimental Economics, School of Economics, University of Nottingham.
  3. Jacob K. Goeree & Charles A. Holt & Thomas R. Palfrey, 2000. "Quantal Response Equilibrium and Overbidding in Private-Value Auctions," Virginia Economics Online Papers 345, University of Virginia, Department of Economics.
  4. Roman M. Sheremeta & Jingjing Zhang, 2009. "Can Groups Solve the Problem of Overbidding in Contests?," Department of Economics Working Papers 2009-05, McMaster University.
  5. Sheremeta, Roman, 2009. "Expenditures and Information Disclosure in Two-Stage Political Contests," MPRA Paper 49887, University Library of Munich, Germany.
  6. Wieland Müller & Andrew Schotter, 2010. "Workaholics and Dropouts in Organizations," Journal of the European Economic Association, European Economic Association, vol. 8(4), pages 717-743, 06.
  7. Amos Tversky & Daniel Kahneman, 1979. "Prospect Theory: An Analysis of Decision under Risk," Levine's Working Paper Archive 7656, David K. Levine.
  8. Potters, J.J.M. & de Vries, C.G. & van Winden, F.A.A.M., 1998. "An experimental examination of rational rentseeking," Other publications TiSEM 496ad30e-8453-4c83-a5e1-5, Tilburg University, School of Economics and Management.
  9. Bull, Clive & Schotter, Andrew & Weigelt, Keith, 1985. "Tournaments and Piece Rates: An Experimental Study," Working Papers 85-21, C.V. Starr Center for Applied Economics, New York University.
  10. Kyung Hwan Baik & Todd Cherry & Stephan Kroll & Jason Shogren, 1999. "Endogenous Timing in a Gaming Tournament," Theory and Decision, Springer, vol. 47(1), pages 1-21, August.
  11. Quiggin, John, 1982. "A theory of anticipated utility," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 3(4), pages 323-343, December.
  12. Price, Curtis & Sheremeta, Roman, 2011. "Endowment Effects in Contests," MPRA Paper 52103, University Library of Munich, Germany.
  13. Bruce Linster & Richard Fullerton & Michael Mckee & Stephen Slate, 2001. "Rent-seeking models of international competition: An experimental investigation," Defence and Peace Economics, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 12(4), pages 285-302.
  14. David Schmidt & Robert S. Shupp & James Walker, 2005. "Resource Allocation Contests: Experimental Evidence," Working Papers 200506, Ball State University, Department of Economics, revised Feb 2005.
  15. Wilcox, Nathaniel, 2007. "Stochastically more risk averse: A contextual theory of stochastic discrete choice under risk," MPRA Paper 11851, University Library of Munich, Germany.
  16. Edward P. Lazear & Sherwin Rosen, 1979. "Rank-Order Tournaments as Optimum Labor Contracts," NBER Working Papers 0401, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  17. Sheremeta, Roman M., 2010. "Experimental comparison of multi-stage and one-stage contests," Games and Economic Behavior, Elsevier, vol. 68(2), pages 731-747, March.
  18. Urs Fischbacher, 2007. "z-Tree: Zurich toolbox for ready-made economic experiments," Experimental Economics, Springer, vol. 10(2), pages 171-178, June.
  19. Shakun D. Mago & Anya C. Savikhin & Roman M. Sheremeta, 2012. "Facing Your Opponents: Social identification and information feedback in contests," Working Papers 12-15, Chapman University, Economic Science Institute.
  20. Millner, Edward L & Pratt, Michael D, 1991. " Risk Aversion and Rent-Seeking: An Extension and Some Experimental Evidence," Public Choice, Springer, vol. 69(1), pages 81-92, February.
  21. Dechenaux, Emmanuel & Kovenock, Dan & Sheremeta, Roman, 2014. "A Survey of Experimental Research on Contests, All-Pay Auctions and Tournaments," MPRA Paper 59714, University Library of Munich, Germany.
  22. Szidarovszky, Ferenc & Okuguchi, Koji, 1997. "On the Existence and Uniqueness of Pure Nash Equilibrium in Rent-Seeking Games," Games and Economic Behavior, Elsevier, vol. 18(1), pages 135-140, January.
  23. Edward Millner & Michael Pratt, 1989. "An experimental investigation of efficient rent-seeking," Public Choice, Springer, vol. 62(2), pages 139-151, August.
  24. Douglas Davis & Robert Reilly, 1998. "Do too many cooks always spoil the stew? An experimental analysis of rent-seeking and the role of a strategic buyer," Public Choice, Springer, vol. 95(1), pages 89-115, April.
  25. Skaperdas, Stergios & Gan, Li, 1995. "Risk Aversion in Contests," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 105(431), pages 951-62, July.
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