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Competitive preferences and status as an incentive : experimental evidence


  • David Masclet

    () (CREM - Centre de recherche en économie et management - UNICAEN - Université de Caen Normandie - NU - Normandie Université - UR1 - Université de Rennes 1 - CNRS - Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique)

  • Marie Claire Villeval

    () (GATE Lyon Saint-Étienne - Groupe d'analyse et de théorie économique - ENS Lyon - École normale supérieure - Lyon - UL2 - Université Lumière - Lyon 2 - UCBL - Université Claude Bernard Lyon 1 - Université de Lyon - UJM - Université Jean Monnet [Saint-Étienne] - Université de Lyon - CNRS - Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique)

  • Gary Charness

    () (Department of Economics, University of California - University of California [Santa Barbara])


In this paper, we investigate individuals’ investment in status in an environment where no monetary return can possibly be derived from reaching a better relative position. We use a real-effort experiment in which we permit individuals to learn and potentially improve their status (rank). We find that people express both intrinsic motivation and a taste for status. Indeed, people increase their effort when they are simply informed about their relative performance, and people pay both to sabotage others’ output and to artificially increase their own relative performance. In addition, stronger group identity favors positive rivalry and discourages sabotage among peers.
(This abstract was borrowed from another version of this item.)

Suggested Citation

  • David Masclet & Marie Claire Villeval & Gary Charness, 2010. "Competitive preferences and status as an incentive : experimental evidence," Post-Print halshs-00554777, HAL.
  • Handle: RePEc:hal:journl:halshs-00554777
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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Suzanne Scotchmer, 2010. "Openness, Open Source, and the Veil of Ignorance," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 100(2), pages 165-171, May.
    2. Éric Darmon & Thomas Le Texier & Dominique Torre, 2011. "Proprietary or open source software? Winner-takes-all competition, partial adoption and efficiency," Revue d'économie industrielle, De Boeck Université, vol. 0(4), pages 109-140.
    3. Ramon Casadesus-Masanell & Gastón Llanes, 2011. "Mixed Source," Management Science, INFORMS, vol. 57(7), pages 1212-1230, July.
    4. Josh Lerner & Jean Tirole, 2005. "The Economics of Technology Sharing: Open Source and Beyond," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 19(2), pages 99-120, Spring.
    5. Dalle, Jean-Michel & Jullien, Nicolas, 2003. "'Libre' software: turning fads into institutions?," Research Policy, Elsevier, vol. 32(1), pages 1-11, January.
    6. Eric von Hippel, 2007. "Horizontal innovation networks—by and for users," Industrial and Corporate Change, Oxford University Press, vol. 16(2), pages 293-315, April.
    7. Chaim Fershtman & Neil Gandal, 2007. "Open source software: Motivation and restrictive licensing," International Economics and Economic Policy, Springer, vol. 4(2), pages 209-225, August.
    8. Nicholas Economides & Evangelos Katsamakas, 2006. "Two-Sided Competition of Proprietary vs. Open Source Technology Platforms and the Implications for the Software Industry," Management Science, INFORMS, vol. 52(7), pages 1057-1071, July.
    9. Comino, Stefano & Manenti, Fabio M., 2011. "Dual licensing in open source software markets," Information Economics and Policy, Elsevier, vol. 23(3), pages 234-242.
    10. Haruvy, Ernan & Prasad, Ashutosh, 2005. "Freeware as a competitive deterrent," Information Economics and Policy, Elsevier, vol. 17(4), pages 513-534, October.
    11. Llanes, Gastón & de Elejalde, Ramiro, 2013. "Industry equilibrium with open-source and proprietary firms," International Journal of Industrial Organization, Elsevier, vol. 31(1), pages 36-49.
    12. Ramon Casadesus-Masanell & Pankaj Ghemawat, 2006. "Dynamic Mixed Duopoly: A Model Motivated by Linux vs. Windows," Management Science, INFORMS, vol. 52(7), pages 1072-1084, July.
    13. Lanzi, Diego, 2009. "Competition and open source with perfect software compatibility," Information Economics and Policy, Elsevier, vol. 21(3), pages 192-200, August.
    14. Chaim Fershtman & Neil Gandal, 2011. "Direct and indirect knowledge spillovers: the “social network” of open‐source projects," RAND Journal of Economics, RAND Corporation, vol. 42(1), pages 70-91, March.
    15. Rolandsson, Bertil & Bergquist, Magnus & Ljungberg, Jan, 2011. "Open source in the firm: Opening up professional practices of software development," Research Policy, Elsevier, vol. 40(4), pages 576-587, May.
    16. Ashish Arora & Farasat A. S. Bokhari, 2007. "OPEN VERSUS CLOSED FIRMS AND THE DYNAMICS OF INDUSTRY EVOLUTION -super-," Journal of Industrial Economics, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 55(3), pages 499-527, September.
    17. Vineet Kumar & Brett R. Gordon & Kannan Srinivasan, 2011. "Competitive Strategy for Open Source Software," Marketing Science, INFORMS, vol. 30(6), pages 1066-1078, November.
    18. Bonaccorsi, Andrea & Rossi, Cristina, 2003. "Why Open Source software can succeed," Research Policy, Elsevier, vol. 32(7), pages 1243-1258, July.
    Full references (including those not matched with items on IDEAS)


    Citations are extracted by the CitEc Project, subscribe to its RSS feed for this item.

    Cited by:

    1. Eriksson, Tor & Villeval, Marie Claire, 2012. "Respect and relational contracts," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 81(1), pages 286-298.
    2. repec:kap:expeco:v:20:y:2017:i:2:d:10.1007_s10683-016-9485-0 is not listed on IDEAS
    3. repec:zbw:rwirep:0414 is not listed on IDEAS
    4. Loukas Balafoutas & Florian Lindner & Matthias Sutter, 2012. "Sabotage in Tournaments: Evidence from a Natural Experiment," Kyklos, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 65(4), pages 425-441, November.
    5. Rustichini, Aldo & Villeval, Marie Claire, 2014. "Moral hypocrisy, power and social preferences," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 107(PA), pages 10-24.
    6. Corgnet, Brice & Hernán-González, Roberto & Rassenti, Stephen, 2015. "Firing threats: Incentive effects and impression management," Games and Economic Behavior, Elsevier, vol. 91(C), pages 97-113.
    7. Dessi, Roberta & Miquel-Florensa, Josepa, 2013. "When to Pay More: Incentives, Culture and Status in Principal‐ Agent Interactions," TSE Working Papers 13-413, Toulouse School of Economics (TSE).
    8. Kairies-Schwarz, Nadja & Krieger, Miriam, 2014. "How do Non-Monetary Performance Incentives for Physicians Affect the Quality of Medical Care? A Laboratory Experiment," Annual Conference 2014 (Hamburg): Evidence-based Economic Policy 100583, Verein für Socialpolitik / German Economic Association.
    9. Brice Corgnet & Roberto Hernán-González & Stephen Rassenti, 2011. "Real Effort, Real Leisure and Real-time Supervision: Incentives and Peer Pressure in Virtual Organizations," Working Papers 11-05, Chapman University, Economic Science Institute.
    10. Kairies, Nadja & Krieger, Miriam, 2013. "How do Non-Monetary Performance Incentives for Physicians Affect the Quality of Medical Care? – A Laboratory Experiment," Ruhr Economic Papers 414, RWI - Leibniz-Institut für Wirtschaftsforschung, Ruhr-University Bochum, TU Dortmund University, University of Duisburg-Essen.
    11. Peter Kuhn & Marie-Claire Villeval, 2011. "Do Women Prefer a Co-operative Work Environment?," Working Papers 1127, Groupe d'Analyse et de Théorie Economique Lyon St-Étienne (GATE Lyon St-Étienne), Université de Lyon.
    12. Nadja Kairies & Miriam Krieger, 2013. "How do Non-Monetary Performance Incentives for Physicians Affect the Quality of Medical Care? – A Laboratory Experiment," Ruhr Economic Papers 0414, Rheinisch-Westfälisches Institut für Wirtschaftsforschung, Ruhr-Universität Bochum, Universität Dortmund, Universität Duisburg-Essen.
    13. Ertac, Seda & Koçkesen, Levent & Ozdemir, Duygu, 2016. "The role of verifiability and privacy in the strategic provision of performance feedback: Theory and experimental evidence," Games and Economic Behavior, Elsevier, vol. 100(C), pages 24-45.
    14. Tran, Anh & Zeckhauser, Richard, 2012. "Rank as an inherent incentive: Evidence from a field experiment," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 96(9-10), pages 645-650.
    15. Kamphorst, Jurjen J.A. & Swank, Otto H., 2013. "When Galatea cares about her reputation: How having faith in your workers reduces their motivation to shine," European Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 60(C), pages 91-104.
    16. Seda Ertac & Mert Gumren & Levent Kockesen, 2017. "Strategic Feedback in Teams: Theory and Experimental Evidence," Koç University-TUSIAD Economic Research Forum Working Papers 1714, Koc University-TUSIAD Economic Research Forum.
    17. Yola Engler & Lionel Page, 2017. "Driving a Hard Bargain is a Balancing Act: How social preferences constrain the negotiation process," QuBE Working Papers 051, QUT Business School.

    More about this item


    status seeking; rank; competitive preferences; experiment;

    JEL classification:

    • C91 - Mathematical and Quantitative Methods - - Design of Experiments - - - Laboratory, Individual Behavior
    • C92 - Mathematical and Quantitative Methods - - Design of Experiments - - - Laboratory, Group Behavior
    • M54 - Business Administration and Business Economics; Marketing; Accounting; Personnel Economics - - Personnel Economics - - - Labor Management
    • D63 - Microeconomics - - Welfare Economics - - - Equity, Justice, Inequality, and Other Normative Criteria and Measurement
    • J28 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demand and Supply of Labor - - - Safety; Job Satisfaction; Related Public Policy
    • J31 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Wages, Compensation, and Labor Costs - - - Wage Level and Structure; Wage Differentials


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