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The Optimal Multi-Stage Contest

  • Qiang Fu
  • JingFeng Lu

This paper investigates the optimal (effort-maximizing) structure of multi-stage sequential-elimination contests. We allow the contest organizer to design the contest structure using two instruments: contest sequence (the number of stages, and the number of contestants remaining after each stage), and prize allocation. When the contest technology is sufficiently noisy, we find that multi-stage contests elicit more effort than single-stage contests. For concave and moderately convex impact functions, the contest organizer should allocate the entire prize purse to a single final prize, regardless of the contest sequence. Additional stages always increase total effort. Therefore, the optimal contest eliminates one contestant at each stage until the finale when a single winner obtains the entire prize purse. Our results thus rationalize various forms of multi-stage contests that are conducted in the real world. Copyright Springer-Verlag 2012

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Paper provided by www.najecon.org in its series NajEcon Working Paper Reviews with number 843644000000000387.

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Date of creation: 17 Aug 2007
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Handle: RePEc:cla:najeco:843644000000000387
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  1. Baye, M.R. & Kovenock, D., 1993. "The Solution of the Tullock Rent-Seeking Game when R > 2 : Mixed-Strategy Equilibria and Mean Dissipation Rates," Discussion Paper 1993-68, Tilburg University, Center for Economic Research.
  2. Rick Harbaugh & Tilman Klumpp, 2005. "Early Round Upsets and Championship Blowouts," Economic Inquiry, Western Economic Association International, vol. 43(2), pages 316-329, April.
  3. Sherwin Rosen, 1985. "Prizes and Incentives in Elimination Tournaments," NBER Working Papers 1668, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  4. Konrad, Kai A. & Kovenock, Dan, 2006. "Multi-battle contests," Discussion Paper Series of SFB/TR 15 Governance and the Efficiency of Economic Systems 122, Free University of Berlin, Humboldt University of Berlin, University of Bonn, University of Mannheim, University of Munich.
  5. Barut, Yasar & Kovenock, Dan, 1998. "The symmetric multiple prize all-pay auction with complete information," European Journal of Political Economy, Elsevier, vol. 14(4), pages 627-644, November.
  6. Skaperdas, Stergios, 1996. "Contest Success Functions," Economic Theory, Society for the Advancement of Economic Theory (SAET), vol. 7(2), pages 283-90, February.
  7. Baye, M.R. & Kovenock, D. & De Vries, C.G., 1991. "Rigging The Lobbying Process: An Application Of The All- Pay Auction," Purdue University Economics Working Papers 1002, Purdue University, Department of Economics.
  8. Benny Moldovanu & Aner Sela & Xianwen Shi, 2007. "Contests for Status," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 115, pages 338-363.
  9. repec:pit:wpaper:205 is not listed on IDEAS
  10. Amegashie, J Atsu, 1999. "The Design of Rent-Seeking Competitions: Committees, Preliminary and Final Contests," Public Choice, Springer, vol. 99(1-2), pages 63-76, April.
  11. Amegashie, J Atsu, 2000. "Some Results on Rent-Seeking Contests with Shortlisting," Public Choice, Springer, vol. 105(3-4), pages 245-53, December.
  12. Richard L. Fullerton & R. Preston McAfee, 1999. "Auctioning Entry into Tournaments," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 107(3), pages 573-605, June.
  13. Gradstein, Mark & Konrad, Kai A, 1999. "Orchestrating Rent Seeking Contests," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 109(458), pages 536-45, October.
  14. Moldovanu, Benny & Sela, Aner, 1999. "The Optimal Allocation of Prizes in Contests," Sonderforschungsbereich 504 Publications 99-75, Sonderforschungsbereich 504, Universität Mannheim;Sonderforschungsbereich 504, University of Mannheim.
  15. Clark, Derek J. & Riis, Christian, 1998. "Influence and the discretionary allocation of several prizes," European Journal of Political Economy, Elsevier, vol. 14(4), pages 605-625, November.
  16. Baye, M.R. & Kovenock, D. & De Vries, C.G., 1993. "The Solution to the Tullock Rent-Seeking Game when r>2: Mixed-Strategy Equilibria and Mean Dissipation Rates," Purdue University Economics Working Papers 1039, Purdue University, Department of Economics.
  17. Konrad, Kai A., 2007. "Strategy in contests: an introduction
    [Strategie in Turnieren – eine Einführung]
    ," Discussion Papers, Research Unit: Market Processes and Governance SP II 2007-01, Social Science Research Center Berlin (WZB).
  18. Clark, Derek J & Riis, Christian, 1996. "A Multi-winner Nested Rent-Seeking Contest," Public Choice, Springer, vol. 87(1-2), pages 177-84, April.
  19. Clark, Derek J & Riis, Christian, 1998. "Competition over More Than One Prize," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 88(1), pages 276-89, March.
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