IDEAS home Printed from
   My bibliography  Save this paper

Selecting the Best? Spillover and Shadows in Elimination Tournaments


  • Jennifer Brown
  • Dylan B. Minor


We consider how past, current, and future competition within an elimination tournament affect the probability that the stronger player wins. We present a two-stage model that yields the following main results: (1) a shadow effect--the stronger the expected future competitor, the lower the probability that the stronger player wins in the current stage and (2) an effort spillover effect--previous effort reduces the probability that the stronger player wins in the current stage. We test our theory predictions using data from high-stakes tournaments. Empirical results suggest that shadow and spillover effects influence match outcomes and have been already been priced into betting markets.

Suggested Citation

  • Jennifer Brown & Dylan B. Minor, 2011. "Selecting the Best? Spillover and Shadows in Elimination Tournaments," NBER Working Papers 17639, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  • Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:17639
    Note: IO

    Download full text from publisher

    File URL:
    Download Restriction: no

    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Lazear, Edward P & Rosen, Sherwin, 1981. "Rank-Order Tournaments as Optimum Labor Contracts," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 89(5), pages 841-864, October.
    2. Konrad, Kai A., 2009. "Strategy and Dynamics in Contests," OUP Catalogue, Oxford University Press, number 9780199549603.
    3. Thomas Lemieux & W. Bentley MacLeod & Daniel Parent, 2009. "Performance Pay and Wage Inequality," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 124(1), pages 1-49.
    4. David Forrest & Ian Mchale, 2007. "Anyone for Tennis (Betting)?," The European Journal of Finance, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 13(8), pages 751-768.
    5. Martin Spann & Bernd Skiera, 2003. "Internet-Based Virtual Stock Markets for Business Forecasting," Management Science, INFORMS, vol. 49(10), pages 1310-1326, October.
    6. Rick Harbaugh & Tilman Klumpp, 2005. "Early Round Upsets and Championship Blowouts," Economic Inquiry, Western Economic Association International, vol. 43(2), pages 316-329, April.
    7. Klaassen, Franc J. G. M. & Magnus, Jan R., 2003. "Forecasting the winner of a tennis match," European Journal of Operational Research, Elsevier, vol. 148(2), pages 257-267, July.
    8. Lazear, Edward P, 1986. "Salaries and Piece Rates," The Journal of Business, University of Chicago Press, vol. 59(3), pages 405-431, July.
    9. Florian Ederer, 2010. "Feedback and Motivation in Dynamic Tournaments," Journal of Economics & Management Strategy, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 19(3), pages 733-769, September.
    10. González-Díaz, Julio & Gossner, Olivier & Rogers, Brian W., 2012. "Performing best when it matters most: Evidence from professional tennis," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 84(3), pages 767-781.
    11. Rosen, Sherwin, 1986. "Prizes and Incentives in Elimination Tournaments," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 76(4), pages 701-715, September.
    12. Mark Walker & John Wooders, 2001. "Minimax Play at Wimbledon," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 91(5), pages 1521-1538, December.
    13. 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 155-179, April.
    14. Dmitry Ryvkin, 2009. "Tournaments of Weakly Heterogeneous Players," Journal of Public Economic Theory, Association for Public Economic Theory, vol. 11(5), pages 819-855, October.
    15. Vaughan Williams, Leighton, 1999. "Information Efficiency in Betting Markets: A Survey," Bulletin of Economic Research, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 51(1), pages 1-30, January.
    16. Bill Woodland & Linda Woodland, 1999. "Expected utility, skewness, and the baseball betting market," Applied Economics, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 31(3), pages 337-345.
    17. David A. Malueg & Andrew J. Yates, 2010. "Testing Contest Theory: Evidence from Best-of-Three Tennis Matches," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 92(3), pages 689-692, August.
    18. Martin Spann & Bernd Skiera, 2009. "Sports forecasting: a comparison of the forecast accuracy of prediction markets, betting odds and tipsters," Journal of Forecasting, John Wiley & Sons, Ltd., vol. 28(1), pages 55-72.
    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. María Cubel & Santiago Sanchez-Pages, 2014. "Difference-form group contests," Working Papers 2014/6, Institut d'Economia de Barcelona (IEB).
    2. Rudi Stracke & Wolfgang Höchtl & Rudolf Kerschbamer & Uwe Sunde, 2015. "Incentives and Selection in Promotion Contests: Is It Possible to Kill Two Birds with One Stone?," Managerial and Decision Economics, John Wiley & Sons, Ltd., vol. 36(5), pages 275-285, July.
    3. Stracke, Rudi & Kerschbamer, Rudolf & Sunde, Uwe, 2012. "Two-Stage Elimination Contests with Endogenous Continuation Values: An Analytical Solution," Economics Working Paper Series 1220, University of St. Gallen, School of Economics and Political Science.

    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • J01 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - General - - - Labor Economics: General
    • J3 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Wages, Compensation, and Labor Costs
    • J31 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Wages, Compensation, and Labor Costs - - - Wage Level and Structure; Wage Differentials

    NEP fields

    This paper has been announced in the following NEP Reports:


    Access and download statistics


    All material on this site has been provided by the respective publishers and authors. You can help correct errors and omissions. When requesting a correction, please mention this item's handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:17639. See general information about how to correct material in RePEc.

    For technical questions regarding this item, or to correct its authors, title, abstract, bibliographic or download information, contact: (). General contact details of provider: .

    If you have authored this item and are not yet registered with RePEc, we encourage you to do it here. This allows to link your profile to this item. It also allows you to accept potential citations to this item that we are uncertain about.

    If CitEc recognized a reference but did not link an item in RePEc to it, you can help with this form .

    If you know of missing items citing this one, you can help us creating those links by adding the relevant references in the same way as above, for each refering item. If you are a registered author of this item, you may also want to check the "citations" tab in your RePEc Author Service profile, as there may be some citations waiting for confirmation.

    Please note that corrections may take a couple of weeks to filter through the various RePEc services.

    IDEAS is a RePEc service hosted by the Research Division of the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis . RePEc uses bibliographic data supplied by the respective publishers.