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Carrots and Sticks: Prizes and Punishments in Contests

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  • Moldovanu, Benny
  • Sela, Aner
  • Shi, Xianwen

Abstract

We study optimal contest design in situations where the designer can reward high performance agents with positive prizes and punish low performance agents with negative prizes. We link the optimal prize structure to the curvature of distribution of abilities in the population. In particular, we identify conditions under which, even if punishment is costly, punishing the bottom is more effective than rewarding the top in eliciting effort input. If punishment is costless, we study the optimal number of punishments in the contest.

Suggested Citation

  • Moldovanu, Benny & Sela, Aner & Shi, Xianwen, 2008. "Carrots and Sticks: Prizes and Punishments in Contests," CEPR Discussion Papers 6770, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  • Handle: RePEc:cpr:ceprdp:6770
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    1. Lazear, Edward P & Rosen, Sherwin, 1981. "Rank-Order Tournaments as Optimum Labor Contracts," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 89(5), pages 841-864, October.
    2. Benny Moldovanu & Aner Sela, 2001. "The Optimal Allocation of Prizes in Contests," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 91(3), pages 542-558, June.
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    6. Baye, Michael R & Kovenock, Dan & de Vries, Casper G, 1993. "Rigging the Lobbying Process: An Application of the All-Pay Auction," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 83(1), pages 289-294, March.
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    More about this item

    Keywords

    All-pay auctions; Contests; Order Statistics; Punishments;
    All these keywords.

    JEL classification:

    • D44 - Microeconomics - - Market Structure, Pricing, and Design - - - Auctions
    • D82 - Microeconomics - - Information, Knowledge, and Uncertainty - - - Asymmetric and Private Information; Mechanism Design
    • J31 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Wages, Compensation, and Labor Costs - - - Wage Level and Structure; Wage Differentials
    • J41 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Particular Labor Markets - - - Labor Contracts

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