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Emulation in Teams and Families


  • Daniel Léonard
  • Ngo Van Long


We present a model where the probability distribution over the space of an agent's achievements depends not only on her ability and effort, but also on the goals set for her. The agent chooses her effort according to her utility net of perceived cost of effort. This cost is inversely proportional to an `emulation function' that depends on the training undertaken by rival agents. The principal also incurs costs in setting goals. In the first part of the paper we analyse the cases of coaches setting goals for rival athletes and that of a coach in charge of a team. We can sometimes rank the outcomes. In the second part of the paper we turn our attention to families where parents do not treat their children as perfect substitutes, as coaches did. We show that in many circumstances the emulation process reverses our naive intuition. There are now two distinct ways of prodding children to success: direct coaching, and emulation through sibling rivalry. Nous présentons un modèle où la distribution de la valeur du succès d'un agent dépend non seulement de son aptitude et de son effort, mais aussi des objectifs qui lui sont fixés par le principal. L'agent choisit son effort en tenant compte de son utilité et du coût percu de l'effort. Ce coût est inversement proportionel à une 'fonction d'émulation' qui dépend des objectifs fixés à ses rivaux. Dans une première partie, nous analysons les choix d'entraineurs d'athlètes rivaux et celui de l'entraineur d'une équipe. Nous pouvons parfois ordonner leurs résultats. Une deuxième partie analyse le cas des familles qui, contrairement aux entraineurs, ne considèrent pas leurs enfants comme de parfaits substituts. Nous démontrons que souvent le processus d'émulation aboutit à des résultats contraires à une intuition naïve. Il y a maintenant deux voies distinctes pour pousser les enfants vers le succès : une voie directe par la formation, et une voie indirecte s'appuyant sur la rivalité entre frères et soeurs.

Suggested Citation

  • Daniel Léonard & Ngo Van Long, 2009. "Emulation in Teams and Families," CIRANO Working Papers 2009s-04, CIRANO.
  • Handle: RePEc:cir:cirwor:2009s-04

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    More about this item


    emulation; goal setting; principal-agent relationship.; émulation; fixation des objectifs; relation entre un principal et des agents.;

    JEL classification:

    • D1 - Microeconomics - - Household Behavior
    • D23 - Microeconomics - - Production and Organizations - - - Organizational Behavior; Transaction Costs; Property Rights

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