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Selection Tournaments, Sabotage, and Participation

  • Münster, Johannes
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    This paper studies sabotage in tournaments with at least three contestants, where the contestants know each other well. Every contestant has an incentive to direct sabotage specifically against his most dangerous rival. In equilibrium, contestants who choose a higher productive effort are sabotaged more heavily. This might explain findings from psychology, where victims of mobbing are sometimes found to be overachieving. Further, sabotage equalizes promotion chances. The effect is most pronounced if the production function is linear in sabotage, and the cost function depends only on the sum of all sabotage activities: in an interior equilibrium, who will win is a matter of chance, even when contestants differ a great deal in their abilities. This, in turn, has adverse consequences for who might want to participate in a tournament. Since better contestants anticipate that they will be sabotaged more strongly, it may happen that the most able stay out and the tournament selects one of the less able with probability one. I also study the case where some contestants are easy victims, i.e. easier to sabotage than others.

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    File URL: https://epub.ub.uni-muenchen.de/13433/1/118.pdf
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    Paper provided by Free University of Berlin, Humboldt University of Berlin, University of Bonn, University of Mannheim, University of Munich in its series Discussion Paper Series of SFB/TR 15 Governance and the Efficiency of Economic Systems with number 118.

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    Date of creation: Apr 2006
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    Handle: RePEc:trf:wpaper:118
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    1. Christine Harbring & Bernd Irlenbusch & Matthias Kräkel & Reinhard Selten, 2004. "Sabotage in Asymmetric Contests – An Experimental Analysis," Bonn Econ Discussion Papers bgse12_2004, University of Bonn, Germany.
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    15. Hvide, H.K. & Kristiansen, E.G., 1999. "Risk Taking in Selection Contests," Papers 5-99, Tel Aviv.
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    17. Harrington, Joseph Jr. & Hess, Gregory D., 1996. "A Spatial Theory of Positive and Negative Campaigning," Games and Economic Behavior, Elsevier, vol. 17(2), pages 209-229, December.
    18. Baumol, William J., 1992. "Innovation and strategic sabotage as a feedback process," Japan and the World Economy, Elsevier, vol. 4(4), pages 275-290, December.
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    20. Konrad, Kai A, 2000. "Sabotage in Rent-Seeking Contests," Journal of Law, Economics and Organization, Oxford University Press, vol. 16(1), pages 155-65, April.
    21. Chan, William, 1996. "External Recruitment versus Internal Promotion," Journal of Labor Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 14(4), pages 555-70, October.
    22. Sherwin Rosen, 1985. "Prizes and Incentives in Elimination Tournaments," NBER Working Papers 1668, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
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