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Self-Selection and the Efficiency of Tournaments

  • Tor Eriksson
  • Sabrina Teyssier

    ()

    (GATE CNRS)

  • Marie-Claire Villeval

    ()

    (GATE CNRS)

When exogenously imposed, rank-order tournaments have incentive properties but their overall efficiency is reduced by a high variance in performance (Bull, Schotter, and Weigelt 1987). However, since the efficiency of performance-related pay is attributable both to its incentive effect and to its selection effect among employees (Lazear, 2000), it is important to investigate the ex ante sorting effect of tournaments. This paper reports results from an experiment analyzing whether allowing subjects to self-select into different payment schemes helps in reducing the variability of performance in tournaments. We show that when the subjects choose to enter a tournament, the average effort is higher and the between-subject variance is substantially lower than when the same payment scheme is imposed. Mainly based on the degree of risk aversion, sorting is efficiency-enhancing since it increases the homogeneity of the contestants. We suggest that the flexibility of the labor market is an important condition for a higher efficiency of relative performance pay.

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Paper provided by Groupe d'Analyse et de Théorie Economique (GATE), Centre national de la recherche scientifique (CNRS), Université Lyon 2, Ecole Normale Supérieure in its series Working Papers with number 0603.

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Length: 37 pages
Date of creation: Mar 2006
Date of revision:
Handle: RePEc:gat:wpaper:0603
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  1. Tor Eriksson & Marie-Claire Villeval, 2004. "Other-Regarding Preferences and Performance Pay - An Experiment on Incentives and Sorting," Post-Print halshs-00180115, HAL.
  2. Bognanno, Michael L, 2001. "Corporate Tournaments," Journal of Labor Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 19(2), pages 290-315, April.
  3. Knoeber, Charles R & Thurman, Walter N, 1994. "Testing the Theory of Tournaments: An Empirical Analysis of Broiler Production," Journal of Labor Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 12(2), pages 155-79, April.
  4. Charles A. Holt & Susan K. Laury, 2002. "Risk Aversion and Incentive Effects," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 92(5), pages 1644-1655, December.
  5. Green, Jerry & Stokey, Nancy, 1983. "A Comparison of Tournaments and Contracts," Scholarly Articles 3203644, Harvard University Department of Economics.
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  8. Nabanita Datta Gupta & Anders Poulsen & Marie-Claire Villeval, 2005. "Male and Female Competitive Behavior: Experimental," Post-Print halshs-00175039, HAL.
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  11. Bohnet, Iris & Kubler, Dorothea, 2005. "Compensating the cooperators: is sorting in the prisoner's dilemma possible?," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 56(1), pages 61-76, January.
  12. Lazear, Edward P, 1989. "Pay Equality and Industrial Politics," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 97(3), pages 561-80, June.
  13. Alannah Orrison & Andrew Schotter & Keith Weigelt, 2004. "Multiperson Tournaments: An Experimental Examination," Management Science, INFORMS, vol. 50(2), pages 268-279, February.
  14. Oriana Bandiera & Iwan Barankay & Imran Rasul, 2005. "Social Preferences and the Response to Incentives: Evidence from Personnel Data," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 120(3), pages 917-962, August.
  15. O'Keeffe, Mary & Viscusi, W Kip & Zeckhauser, Richard J, 1984. "Economic Contests: Comparative Reward Schemes," Journal of Labor Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 2(1), pages 27-56, January.
  16. Lise Vesterlund & Muriel Niederle, 2004. "Do Women shy away from Competition?," Econometric Society 2004 North American Summer Meetings 652, Econometric Society.
  17. Schotter, Andrew & Weigelt, Keith, 1992. "Asymmetric Tournaments, Equal Opportunity Laws, and Affirmative Action: Some Experimental Results," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 107(2), pages 511-39, May.
  18. Canice Prendergast, 1999. "The Provision of Incentives in Firms," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 37(1), pages 7-63, March.
  19. Ehrenberg, Ronald G & Bognanno, Michael L, 1990. "Do Tournaments Have Incentive Effects?," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 98(6), pages 1307-24, December.
  20. van Dijk, Frans & Sonnemans, Joep & van Winden, Frans, 2001. "Incentive systems in a real effort experiment," European Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 45(2), pages 187-214, February.
  21. 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.
  22. Edward Lazear & Ulrike Malmendier & Roberto Weber, 2006. "Sorting, Prices, and Social Preferences," NBER Working Papers 12041, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  23. Edward P. Lazear, 1996. "Performance Pay and Productivity," NBER Working Papers 5672, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  24. Harbring, Christine & Irlenbusch, Bernd, 2003. "An experimental study on tournament design," Labour Economics, Elsevier, vol. 10(4), pages 443-464, August.
  25. Christine Harbring & Bernd Irlenbusch, 2005. "Incentives in Tournaments with Endogenous Prize Selection," Journal of Institutional and Theoretical Economics (JITE), Mohr Siebeck, Tübingen, vol. 161(4), pages 636-, December.
  26. Nabanita Datta Gupta & Anders Poulsen & Marie-Claire Villeval, 2005. "Male and Female Competitive Behavior - Experimental Evidence," Post-Print halshs-00180022, HAL.
  27. Vandegrift, Donald & Brown, Paul, 2003. "Task difficulty, incentive effects, and the selection of high-variance strategies: an experimental examination of tournament behavior," Labour Economics, Elsevier, vol. 10(4), pages 481-497, August.
  28. Eriksson, Tor, 1999. "Executive Compensation and Tournament Theory: Empirical Tests on Danish Data," Journal of Labor Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 17(2), pages 262-80, April.
  29. 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.
  30. Edward P. Lazear & Sherwin Rosen, 1979. "Rank-Order Tournaments as Optimum Labor Contracts," NBER Working Papers 0401, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  31. Main, Brian G M & O'Reilly, Charles A, III & Wade, James, 1993. "Top Executive Pay: Tournament or Teamwork?," Journal of Labor Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 11(4), pages 606-28, October.
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