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Self-Selection and the Efficiency of Tournaments

  • Tor Eriksson

    ()

    (Department of economics - University of Aarhus)

  • Sabrina Teyssier

    ()

    (GATE - Groupe d'analyse et de théorie économique - CNRS : UMR5824 - Université Lumière - Lyon II - Ecole Normale Supérieure Lettres et Sciences Humaines)

  • Marie-Claire Villeval

    (GATE - Groupe d'analyse et de théorie économique - CNRS : UMR5824 - Université Lumière - Lyon II - Ecole Normale Supérieure Lettres et Sciences Humaines, IZA - Institute for the study of labor - IZA - Institute for the Study of Labor)

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 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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Date of creation: Feb 2006
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Handle: RePEc:hal:journl:halshs-00175041
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  1. 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.
  2. Tor Eriksson & Marie-Claire Villeval, 2004. "Other-Regarding Preferences and Performance Pay - An Experiment on Incentives and Sorting," Post-Print halshs-00180115, HAL.
  3. Bellemare, Charles & Shearer, Bruce S., 2006. "Sorting, Incentives and Risk Preferences: Evidence from a Field Experiment," IZA Discussion Papers 2227, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
  4. Hvide, Hans K. & Kristiansen, Eirik G., 2003. "Risk taking in selection contests," Games and Economic Behavior, Elsevier, vol. 42(1), pages 172-179, January.
  5. Harbring, Christine & Irlenbusch, Bernd, 2003. "An experimental study on tournament design," Labour Economics, Elsevier, vol. 10(4), pages 443-464, August.
  6. Edward P. Lazear & Sherwin Rosen, 1979. "Rank-Order Tournaments as Optimum Labor Contracts," NBER Working Papers 0401, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  7. Jerry R. Green & Nancy L. Stokey, 1982. "A Comparison of Tournaments and Contracts," NBER Working Papers 0840, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  8. Edward P. Lazear & Ulrike Malmendier & Roberto A. Weber, 2012. "Sorting in Experiments with Application to Social Preferences," American Economic Journal: Applied Economics, American Economic Association, vol. 4(1), pages 136-63, January.
  9. 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.
  10. 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.
  11. Edward Lazear & Ulrike Malmendier & Roberto Weber, 2006. "Sorting, Prices, and Social Preferences," NBER Working Papers 12041, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  12. 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.
  13. 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.
  14. Edward P. Lazear, 1996. "Performance Pay and Productivity," NBER Working Papers 5672, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  15. Lazear, Edward P, 1989. "Pay Equality and Industrial Politics," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 97(3), pages 561-80, June.
  16. Frans van Dijk & Joep Sonnemans & Frans van Winden, 2000. "Incentive Systems in a Real Effort Experiment," CESifo Working Paper Series 272, CESifo Group Munich.
  17. 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.
  18. 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.
  19. 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.
  20. 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.
  21. Nalbantian, Haig & Schotter, Andrew, 1994. "Productivity Under Group Incentives: An Experimental Study," Working Papers 94-04, C.V. Starr Center for Applied Economics, New York University.
  22. 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.
  23. 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.
  24. Nabanita Datta Gupta & Anders Poulsen & Marie-Claire Villeval, 2005. "Male and Female Competitive Behavior: Experimental," Post-Print halshs-00175039, HAL.
  25. Alannah Orrison & Andrew Schotter & Keith Weigelt, 2004. "Multiperson Tournaments: An Experimental Examination," Management Science, INFORMS, vol. 50(2), pages 268-279, February.
  26. Nabanita Datta Gupta & Anders Poulsen & Marie-Claire Villeval, 2005. "Male and Female Competitive Behavior - Experimental Evidence," Post-Print halshs-00180022, HAL.
  27. 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.
  28. Bognanno, Michael L, 2001. "Corporate Tournaments," Journal of Labor Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 19(2), pages 290-315, April.
  29. Canice Prendergast, 1999. "The Provision of Incentives in Firms," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 37(1), pages 7-63, March.
  30. 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.
  31. Lise Vesterlund & Muriel Niederle, 2004. "Do Women shy away from Competition?," Econometric Society 2004 North American Summer Meetings 652, Econometric Society.
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