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The Optimal Design of Rewards in Contests

Using contests to generate innovation has and is widely used. Such contests often involve offering a prize that depends upon the accomplishment (effort). Using an all-pay auction as a model of a contest, we determine the optimal reward for inducing innovation. In a symmetric environment, we find that the reward should be set to c(x)/c′(x) where c is the cost of producing an innovation of level x. In an asymmetric environment with two firms, we find that it is optimal to set different rewards for each firm. There are cases where this can be replicated by a single reward that depends upon accomplishments of both contestants.

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Paper provided by University of Haifa, Department of Economics in its series Working Papers with number WP2010/6.

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Length: 19
Date of creation:
Date of revision: 22 Nov 2010
Handle: RePEc:haf:huedwp:wp201006
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  1. Nitzan, Shmuel, 1994. "Modelling rent-seeking contests," European Journal of Political Economy, Elsevier, vol. 10(1), pages 41-60, May.
  2. Cohen, Chen & Kaplan, Todd & Sela, Aner, 2004. "Optimal Rewards in Contests," CEPR Discussion Papers 4704, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  3. Kaplan, Todd R. & Luski, Israel & Wettstein, David, 2003. "Innovative activity and sunk cost," International Journal of Industrial Organization, Elsevier, vol. 21(8), pages 1111-1133, October.
  4. Franke, Jörg & Kanzow, Christian & Leininger, Wolfgang & Väth, Alexandra, 2009. "Effort Maximization in Asymmetric N-person Contest Games," Ruhr Economic Papers 130, Rheinisch-Westfälisches Institut für Wirtschaftsforschung (RWI), Ruhr-University Bochum, TU Dortmund University, University of Duisburg-Essen.
  5. Kaplan, Todd, et al, 2002. "All-Pay Auctions with Variable Rewards," Journal of Industrial Economics, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 50(4), pages 417-30, December.
  6. Yeon-Koo Che & Ian Gale, 2003. "Optimal Design of Research Contests," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 93(3), pages 646-671, June.
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