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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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    References listed on IDEAS

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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.
    3. Robert Akerlof & Richard Holden, 2012. "The nature of tournaments," Economic Theory, Springer;Society for the Advancement of Economic Theory (SAET), vol. 51(2), pages 289-313, October.
    4. Moldovanu, Benny & Sela, Aner, 2006. "Contest architecture," Journal of Economic Theory, Elsevier, vol. 126(1), pages 70-96, January.
    5. Benny Moldovanu & Aner Sela & Xianwen Shi, 2007. "Contests for Status," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 115, pages 338-363.
    6. Green, Jerry R & Stokey, Nancy L, 1983. "A Comparison of Tournaments and Contracts," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 91(3), pages 349-364, June.
    7. Yeon-Koo Che & Ian Gale, 2003. "Optimal Design of Research Contests," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 93(3), pages 646-671, June.
    8. 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.
    9. Taylor, Curtis R, 1995. "Digging for Golden Carrots: An Analysis of Research Tournaments," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 85(4), pages 872-890, September.
    10. 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.
    11. James Andreoni & William Harbaugh & Lise Vesterlund, 2003. "The Carrot or the Stick: Rewards, Punishments, and Cooperation," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 93(3), pages 893-902, June.
    12. Clark, Derek J & Riis, Christian, 1998. "Competition over More Than One Prize," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 88(1), pages 276-289, March.
    13. Glazer, Amihai & Hassin, Refael, 1988. "Optimal Contests," Economic Inquiry, Western Economic Association International, vol. 26(1), pages 133-143, January.
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    Citations

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    Cited by:

    1. Segev, Ella & Sela, Aner, 2014. "Multi-stage sequential all-pay auctions," European Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 70(C), pages 371-382.
    2. Ezra Einy & Mridu Prabal Goswami & Ori Haimanko & Ram Orzach & Aner Sela, 2017. "Common-value all-pay auctions with asymmetric information," International Journal of Game Theory, Springer;Game Theory Society, vol. 46(1), pages 79-102, March.
    3. repec:eee:jeborg:v:139:y:2017:i:c:p:32-48 is not listed on IDEAS
    4. Minchuk, Yizhaq & Sela, Aner, 2014. "All-pay auctions with certain and uncertain prizes," Games and Economic Behavior, Elsevier, vol. 88(C), pages 130-134.
    5. Loukas Balafoutas & E. Glenn Dutcher & Florian Lindner & Dmitry Ryvkin, 2017. "The Optimal Allocation Of Prizes In Tournaments Of Heterogeneous Agents," Economic Inquiry, Western Economic Association International, vol. 55(1), pages 461-478, January.
    6. Aner Sela & Maya Amiad, 2016. "The Optimal Allocation Of Punishments In Tullock Contests," Working Papers 1613, Ben-Gurion University of the Negev, Department of Economics.
    7. Thomas, Jonathan P. & Wang, Zhewei, 2013. "Optimal punishment in contests with endogenous entry," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 91(C), pages 34-50.
    8. Segev, Ella & Sela, Aner, 2014. "Sequential all-pay auctions with noisy outputs," Journal of Mathematical Economics, Elsevier, vol. 50(C), pages 251-261.
    9. Ezra Einy & Ori Haimanko & Ram Orzach & Aner Sela, 2016. "Common-value all-pay auctions with asymmetric information and bid caps," International Journal of Game Theory, Springer;Game Theory Society, vol. 45(1), pages 63-88, March.
    10. Todd R. Kaplan & Shmuel Zamir, 2014. "Advances in Auctions," Discussion Papers 1405, Exeter University, Department of Economics.
    11. Esteve-González, Patricia, 2016. "Moral hazard in repeated procurement of services," International Journal of Industrial Organization, Elsevier, vol. 48(C), pages 244-269.
    12. Yoshio Kamijo, 2014. "A theory of sanctions: Objectives, degree of heterogeneity, and growth potential matter for optimal use of carrot or stick," Working Papers SDES-2014-13, Kochi University of Technology, School of Economics and Management, revised Oct 2014.
    13. repec:spr:etbull:v:2:y:2014:i:1:d:10.1007_s40505-014-0030-z is not listed on IDEAS
    14. Sela, Aner, 2016. "The Optimal Allocation of Punishments in Tullock Contests," CEPR Discussion Papers 11592, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
    15. Dutcher, E. Glenn & Balafoutas, Loukas & Lindner, Florian & Ryvkin, Dmitry & Sutter, Matthias, 2015. "Strive to be first or avoid being last: An experiment on relative performance incentives," Games and Economic Behavior, Elsevier, vol. 94(C), pages 39-56.
    16. Kamijo, Yoshio, 2016. "Rewards versus punishments in additive, weakest-link, and best-shot contests," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 122(C), pages 17-30.
    17. Lindner, Florian & Dutcher, E. Glenn & Balafoutas, Loukas & Ryvkin, Dmitry & Sutter, Matthias, 2013. "Strive to be first and avoid being last: An experiment on relative performance incentives," Annual Conference 2013 (Duesseldorf): Competition Policy and Regulation in a Global Economic Order 79885, Verein für Socialpolitik / German Economic Association.
    18. Sela, Aner, 2009. "Best-of-Three All-Pay Auctions," CEPR Discussion Papers 7224, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
    19. Kaplan, Todd R. & Zamir, Shmuel, 2015. "Advances in Auctions," Handbook of Game Theory with Economic Applications, Elsevier.
    20. Chiappinelli, Olga, 2014. "An elimination contest with non-sunk bids," MPRA Paper 56140, University Library of Munich, Germany.
    21. Kiho Yoon, 2012. "The optimal allocation of prizes in contests: An auction approach," Discussion Paper Series 1207, Institute of Economic Research, Korea University.
    22. Ella Segev & Aner Sela, 2014. "Sequential all-pay auctions with head starts," Social Choice and Welfare, Springer;The Society for Social Choice and Welfare, vol. 43(4), pages 893-923, December.
    23. Jason J Lepore & Alison Mackey & Tyson B Mackey, 2012. "Punishment versus Reward in All-pay Contests with Perfect Information," Economics Bulletin, AccessEcon, vol. 32(4), pages 3090-3097.

    More about this item

    Keywords

    All-pay auctions; Contests; Order Statistics; Punishments;

    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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