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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. Jerry R. Green & Nancy L. Stokey, 1982. "A Comparison of Tournaments and Contracts," NBER Working Papers 0840, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
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  4. 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.
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  6. Bohnet, Iris & Kübler, Dorothea, 2000. "Compensating the cooperators: Is sorting in the prisoner's dilemma possible?," SFB 373 Discussion Papers 2001,2, Humboldt University of Berlin, Interdisciplinary Research Project 373: Quantification and Simulation of Economic Processes.
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  25. 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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  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.
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  30. Lazear, Edward P, 1989. "Pay Equality and Industrial Politics," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 97(3), pages 561-80, June.
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