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The Effects of Prize Spread and Noise in Elimination Tournaments: A Natural Field Experiment

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  • Delfgaauw, Josse

    () (Erasmus University Rotterdam)

  • Dur, Robert

    () (Erasmus University Rotterdam)

  • Non, Arjan

    () (ROA, Maastricht University)

  • Verbeke, Willem

    () (Erasmus University Rotterdam)

Abstract

We conduct a natural field experiment in a large retail chain to test basic predictions of tournament theory regarding prize spread and noise. A random subset of the 208 stores participates in two-stage elimination tournaments. Tournaments differ in the distribution of prize money across winners of the first and second round of the tournament. As predicted by theory, we find that a more convex prize spread increases performance in the second round at the expense of first-round performance, although the magnitude of these effects is small. Moreover, the treatment effect is significantly larger for stores that historically have relatively stable performance as compared to stores with more noisy performance.

Suggested Citation

  • Delfgaauw, Josse & Dur, Robert & Non, Arjan & Verbeke, Willem, 2012. "The Effects of Prize Spread and Noise in Elimination Tournaments: A Natural Field Experiment," IZA Discussion Papers 6480, Institute of Labor Economics (IZA).
  • Handle: RePEc:iza:izadps:dp6480
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    2. Florian Englmaier & Stefan Grimm & David Schindler & Simeon Andreas Dermot Schudy, 2018. "The Effect of Incentives in Non-Routine Analytical Team Tasks - Evidence from a Field Experiment," CESifo Working Paper Series 6903, CESifo.
    3. Gosnell, Greer & Metcalfe, Robert & List, John A, 2016. "A new approach to an age-old problem: solving externalities by incenting workers directly," LSE Research Online Documents on Economics 84331, London School of Economics and Political Science, LSE Library.
    4. Butz, Britta & Harbring, Christine, 2020. "Donations as an incentive for cooperation in public good games," Journal of Behavioral and Experimental Economics (formerly The Journal of Socio-Economics), Elsevier, vol. 85(C).
    5. Lackner, Mario & Stracke, Rudi & Sunde, Uwe & Winter-Ebmer, Rudolf, 2015. "Are Competitors Forward Looking in Strategic Interactions? Evidence from the Field," IZA Discussion Papers 9564, Institute of Labor Economics (IZA).
    6. Emmanuel Dechenaux & Dan Kovenock & Roman Sheremeta, 2015. "A survey of experimental research on contests, all-pay auctions and tournaments," Experimental Economics, Springer;Economic Science Association, vol. 18(4), pages 609-669, December.
    7. Stracke, Rudi & Höchtl, Wolfgang & Kerschbamer, Rudolf & Sunde, Uwe, 2012. "Optimal Prizes in Dynamic Elimination Contests: An Experimental Analysis," Economics Working Paper Series 1208, University of St. Gallen, School of Economics and Political Science.
    8. Florian Englmaier & Stefan Grimm & David Schindler & Simeon Andreas Dermot Schudy, 2018. "The Effect of Incentives in Non-Routine Analytical Team Tasks - Evidence from a Field Experiment," CESifo Working Paper Series 6903, CESifo.
    9. Stracke, Rudi & Höchtl, Wolfgang & Kerschbamer, Rudolf & Sunde, Uwe, 2014. "Optimal prizes in dynamic elimination contests: Theory and experimental evidence," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 102(C), pages 43-58.
    10. Josse Delfgaauw & Robert Dur & Okemena Onemu & Joeri Sol, 2019. "Team Incentives, Social Cohesion, and Performance: A Natural Field Experiment," Tinbergen Institute Discussion Papers 19-045/VII, Tinbergen Institute.
    11. Jed DeVaro & Antti Kauhanen, 2016. "An “Opposing Responses” Test of Classic versus Market-Based Promotion Tournaments," Journal of Labor Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 34(3), pages 747-779.
    12. Hett, Florian, 2014. "Dynamic Contests with Feedback and Heterogeneity: Empirical Evidence from a Gaming App," VfS Annual Conference 2014 (Hamburg): Evidence-based Economic Policy 100494, Verein für Socialpolitik / German Economic Association.
    13. Lackner, Mario & Stracke, Rudi & Sunde, Uwe & Winter-Ebmer, Rudolf, 2020. "Are competitors forward looking in strategic interactions? Field evidence from multistage tournaments," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 179(C), pages 544-565.
    14. Bohnet, Iris & Saidi, Farzad, 2019. "Informational Inequity Aversion and Performance," Working Paper Series rwp19-008, Harvard University, John F. Kennedy School of Government.
    15. Bhattacharya, Puja & Rampal, Jeevant, 2019. "Contests within and between groups," Discussion Papers, Research Unit: Market Behavior SP II 2019-206, WZB Berlin Social Science Center.
    16. Delfgaauw, Josse & Dur, Robert & Souverijn, Michiel, 2017. "Team Incentives, Task Assignment, and Performance: A Field Experiment," IZA Discussion Papers 11228, Institute of Labor Economics (IZA).
    17. Stracke, Rudi & Kerschbamer, Rudolf & Sunde, Uwe, 2017. "Coping with complexity – Experimental evidence for narrow bracketing in multi-stage contests," European Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 98(C), pages 264-281.
    18. Delfgaauw, Josse & Dur, Robert & Non, Arjan & Verbeke, Willem, 2014. "Dynamic incentive effects of relative performance pay: A field experiment," Labour Economics, Elsevier, vol. 28(C), pages 1-13.
    19. Bohnet, Iris & Saidi, Farzad, 2019. "Informational inequity aversion and performance," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 159(C), pages 181-191.
    20. Madonia, Greg & Smith, Austin C., 2019. "All-In or checked-out? Disincentives and selection in income share agreements," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 161(C), pages 52-67.
    21. Manthei, Kathrin & Sliwka, Dirk & Vogelsang, Timo, 2018. "Performance Pay and Prior Learning: Evidence from a Retail Chain," IZA Discussion Papers 11859, Institute of Labor Economics (IZA).
    22. Derek J. Clark & Tore Nilssen & Jan Yngve Sand, 2020. "Gaining advantage by winning contests," Review of Economic Design, Springer;Society for Economic Design, vol. 24(1), pages 23-38, June.
    23. Stracke, Rudi & Kerschbamer, Rudolf & Sunde, Uwe, 2015. "Prevalence and Determinants of Choice Bracketing - Experimental Evidence," VfS Annual Conference 2015 (Muenster): Economic Development - Theory and Policy 113092, Verein für Socialpolitik / German Economic Association.

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    More about this item

    Keywords

    field experiment; incentives; prize spread; elimination tournaments; performance measurement;
    All these keywords.

    JEL classification:

    • C93 - Mathematical and Quantitative Methods - - Design of Experiments - - - Field Experiments
    • M51 - Business Administration and Business Economics; Marketing; Accounting; Personnel Economics - - Personnel Economics - - - Firm Employment Decisions; Promotions
    • M52 - Business Administration and Business Economics; Marketing; Accounting; Personnel Economics - - Personnel Economics - - - Compensation and Compensation Methods and Their Effects

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