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Winner-Take-All and Proportional-Prize Contests: Theory and Experimental Results

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  • Cason, Timothy
  • Masters, William
  • Sheremeta, Roman

Abstract

This study provides a unified framework to compare three canonical types of contests: winner-take-all contests won by the best performer, winner-take-all lotteries where probability of success is proportional to performance, and proportional-prize contests in which rewards are shared in proportion to performance. We derive equilibria and observe outcomes from each contest in a laboratory experiment. Equilibrium and observed efforts are highest in winner-take-all contests. Lotteries and proportional-prize contests have the same Nash equilibrium, but empirically, lotteries induce higher efforts and lower, more unequal payoffs. Behavioral deviations from theoretical benchmarks in different contests are caused by the same underlying attributes, such as risk-aversion and the utility of winning. Finally, we find that subjects exhibit consistent behavior across different types of contests, with subjects exerting higher effort in one contest also exerting higher effort in another contest.

Suggested Citation

  • Cason, Timothy & Masters, William & Sheremeta, Roman, 2018. "Winner-Take-All and Proportional-Prize Contests: Theory and Experimental Results," MPRA Paper 84246, University Library of Munich, Germany.
  • Handle: RePEc:pra:mprapa:84246
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    1. repec:kap:pubcho:v:179:y:2019:i:3:d:10.1007_s11127-018-0564-y is not listed on IDEAS
    2. Hoffmann, Magnus & Kolmar, Martin, 2013. "Intention-based fairness preferences in two-player contests," Economics Letters, Elsevier, vol. 120(2), pages 276-279.
    3. Herbst, Luisa & Konrad, Kai A. & Morath, Florian, 2017. "Balance of power and the propensity of conflict," Games and Economic Behavior, Elsevier, vol. 103(C), pages 168-184.
    4. 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.
    5. Curtis R. Price & Roman M. Sheremeta, 2015. "Endowment Origin, Demographic Effects, and Individual Preferences in Contests," Journal of Economics & Management Strategy, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 24(3), pages 597-619, September.
    6. Subhasish Chowdhury & Roman Sheremeta, 2015. "Strategically equivalent contests," Theory and Decision, Springer, vol. 78(4), pages 587-601, April.
    7. Shakun Mago & Roman Sheremeta, 2017. "New Hampshire Effect: Behavior in Sequential and Simultaneous Multi-Battle Contests," Working Papers 17-25, Chapman University, Economic Science Institute.
    8. Sheremeta, Roman, 2018. "Experimental Research on Contests," MPRA Paper 89327, University Library of Munich, Germany.
    9. Faravelli, Marco & Stanca, Luca, 2014. "Economic incentives and social preferences: Causal evidence of non-separability," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 108(C), pages 273-289.
    10. Roman M. Sheremeta, 2013. "Overbidding And Heterogeneous Behavior In Contest Experiments," Journal of Economic Surveys, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 27(3), pages 491-514, July.
    11. Fallucchi, Francesco & Renner, Elke & Sefton, Martin, 2013. "Information feedback and contest structure in rent-seeking games," European Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 64(C), pages 223-240.
    12. Roman M. Sheremeta, 2014. "Behavioral Dimensions of Contests," Working Papers 14-14, Chapman University, Economic Science Institute.
    13. Kimbrough, Erik O. & Sheremeta, Roman M. & Shields, Timothy W., 2014. "When parity promotes peace: Resolving conflict between asymmetric agents," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 99(C), pages 96-108.
    14. Kolmar, Martin, 2013. "Group Conflicts. Where do we stand?," Economics Working Paper Series 1331, University of St. Gallen, School of Economics and Political Science.
    15. Sheremeta, Roman, 2014. "Behavior in Contests," MPRA Paper 57451, University Library of Munich, Germany.
    16. Shupp, Robert & Sheremeta, Roman M. & Schmidt, David & Walker, James, 2013. "Resource allocation contests: Experimental evidence," Journal of Economic Psychology, Elsevier, vol. 39(C), pages 257-267.
    17. Roman M. Sheremeta, 2018. "Behavior In Group Contests: A Review Of Experimental Research," Journal of Economic Surveys, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 32(3), pages 683-704, July.
    18. Chowdhury, Subhasish M. & Sheremeta, Roman M. & Turocy, Theodore L., 2014. "Overbidding and overspreading in rent-seeking experiments: Cost structure and prize allocation rules," Games and Economic Behavior, Elsevier, vol. 87(C), pages 224-238.
    19. James W. Boudreau & Shane Sanders & Nicholas Shunda, 2019. "The role of noise in alliance formation and collusion in conflicts," Public Choice, Springer, vol. 179(3), pages 249-266, June.
    20. Lacomba, Juan A. & Lagos, Francisco & Reuben, Ernesto & van Winden, Frans, 2014. "On the escalation and de-escalation of conflict," Games and Economic Behavior, Elsevier, vol. 86(C), pages 40-57.
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    22. Grossmann, Martin, 2014. "Uncertain contest success function," European Journal of Political Economy, Elsevier, vol. 33(C), pages 134-148.
    23. Zeynep B. Irfanoglu & Shakun D. Mago & Roman M. Sheremeta, 2014. "The New Hampshire Effect: Behavior in Sequential and Simultaneous Election Contests," Working Papers 14-15, Chapman University, Economic Science Institute.
    24. Irfanoglu, Zeynep & Mago, Shakun & Sheremeta, Roman, 2015. "New Hampshire Effect: Behavior in Sequential and Simultaneous Election Contests," MPRA Paper 67520, University Library of Munich, Germany.
    25. Boudreau, James W. & Shunda, Nicholas, 2015. "Tacit Collusion in Repeated Contests with Noise," MPRA Paper 65671, University Library of Munich, Germany.

    More about this item

    Keywords

    contests; rent-seeking; lotteries; incentives in experiments; risk aversion;

    JEL classification:

    • C72 - Mathematical and Quantitative Methods - - Game Theory and Bargaining Theory - - - Noncooperative Games
    • D72 - Microeconomics - - Analysis of Collective Decision-Making - - - Political Processes: Rent-seeking, Lobbying, Elections, Legislatures, and Voting Behavior
    • D74 - Microeconomics - - Analysis of Collective Decision-Making - - - Conflict; Conflict Resolution; Alliances; Revolutions
    • J33 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Wages, Compensation, and Labor Costs - - - Compensation Packages; Payment Methods

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