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Self-Selection and the Efficiency of Tournaments

  • Eriksson, Tor

    ()

    (Aarhus School of Business)

  • Teyssier, Sabrina

    ()

    (CNRS, GATE)

  • Villeval, Marie Claire

    ()

    (CNRS, GATE)

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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Paper provided by Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA) in its series IZA Discussion Papers with number 1983.

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Length: 37 pages
Date of creation: Feb 2006
Date of revision:
Handle: RePEc:iza:izadps:dp1983
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  1. Edward Lazear & Ulrike Malmendier & Roberto Weber, 2006. "Sorting, Prices, and Social Preferences," NBER Working Papers 12041, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  2. Charles Bellemare & Bruce S. Shearer, 2006. "Sorting, Incentives and Risk Preferences: Evidence from a Field Experiment," Cahiers de recherche 0631, CIRPEE.
  3. Ronald G. Ehrenberg & Michael L. Bognanno, 1988. "Do Tournaments Have Incentive Effects?," NBER Working Papers 2638, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  4. Datta Gupta, Nabanita & Poulsen, Anders & Villeval, Marie Claire, 2005. "Male and Female Competitive Behavior: Experimental Evidence," IZA Discussion Papers 1833, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
  5. 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.
  6. 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.
  7. 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.
  8. 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.
  9. Imran Rasul & Iwan Barankay & Orana Bandiera, 2005. "Social preferences and the response to incentives: Evidence from personnel data," Natural Field Experiments 00212, The Field Experiments Website.
  10. Nabanita Datta Gupta & Anders Poulsen & Marie-Claire Villeval, 2005. "Male and Female Competitive Behavior: Experimental," Post-Print halshs-00175039, HAL.
  11. Bull, Clive & Schotter, Andrew & Weigelt, Keith, 1987. "Tournaments and Piece Rates: An Experimental Study," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 95(1), pages 1-33, February.
  12. Tor Eriksson & Marie-Claire Villeval, 2004. "Other-Regarding Preferences and Performance Pay – An Experiment on Incentives and Sorting," Post-Print halshs-00175006, HAL.
  13. Green, Jerry & Stokey, Nancy, 1983. "A Comparison of Tournaments and Contracts," Scholarly Articles 3203644, Harvard University Department of Economics.
  14. 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.
  15. Edward P. Lazear & Sherwin Rosen, 1979. "Rank-Order Tournaments as Optimum Labor Contracts," NBER Working Papers 0401, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  16. Edward P. Lazear, 2000. "Performance Pay and Productivity," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 90(5), pages 1346-1361, December.
  17. Alannah Orrison & Andrew Schotter & Keith Weigelt, 2004. "Multiperson Tournaments: An Experimental Examination," Management Science, INFORMS, vol. 50(2), pages 268-279, February.
  18. Lise Vesterlund & Muriel Niederle, 2004. "Do Women shy away from Competition?," Econometric Society 2004 North American Summer Meetings 652, Econometric Society.
  19. 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.
  20. Bull, Clive & Schotter, Andrew & Weigelt, Keith, 1987. "Asymmetric Tournaments, Equal Opportunity Laws and Affirmative Action: Some Experimental Results," Working Papers 87-33, C.V. Starr Center for Applied Economics, New York University.
  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. Canice Prendergast, 1999. "The Provision of Incentives in Firms," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 37(1), pages 7-63, March.
  23. 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.
  24. Hvide, Hans K. & Kristiansen, Eirik G., 2003. "Risk taking in selection contests," Games and Economic Behavior, Elsevier, vol. 42(1), pages 172-179, January.
  25. 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.
  26. Lazear, Edward P, 1989. "Pay Equality and Industrial Politics," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 97(3), pages 561-80, June.
  27. Harbring, Christine & Irlenbusch, Bernd, 2003. "An experimental study on tournament design," Labour Economics, Elsevier, vol. 10(4), pages 443-464, August.
  28. 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.
  29. Bognanno, Michael L, 2001. "Corporate Tournaments," Journal of Labor Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 19(2), pages 290-315, April.
  30. 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.
  31. 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.
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