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The Hidden Perils of Affirmative Action: Sabotage in Handicap Contests

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  • Alasdair Brown

    (University of East Anglia)

  • Subhasish M. Chowdhury

    (University of East Anglia)

Abstract

Contests are ubiquitous in economic and political settings. Contest designers often use tools to make a contest among asymmetric contestants more even, in order to either elicit higher effort levels, or for ethical reasons. Handicapping - in which stronger participants are a priori weakened - is one successful tool that is widely used in sports, promotional tournaments and procurement auctions. In this study we show theoretically that participants may also increase their destructive effort, and sabotage their rivals' performance, when handicapping is employed. We empirically verify this prediction using data on 19,635 U.K. horse-races in 2011 and 2012. Our results suggest that while a level field may be conducive to heightened positive effort in general, in a setting where both handicapping and sabotage (`interference') are present it also lays the ground for greater destruction.

Suggested Citation

  • Alasdair Brown & Subhasish M. Chowdhury, 2014. "The Hidden Perils of Affirmative Action: Sabotage in Handicap Contests," University of East Anglia Applied and Financial Economics Working Paper Series 062, School of Economics, University of East Anglia, Norwich, UK..
  • Handle: RePEc:uea:aepppr:2012_62
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    Cited by:

    1. Dahm, Matthias & Esteve-González, Patricia, 2018. "Affirmative action through extra prizes," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 153(C), pages 123-142.
    2. Girard, Victoire, 2018. "Don’t Touch My Road. Evidence from India on Affirmative Action And Everyday Discrimination," World Development, Elsevier, vol. 103(C), pages 1-13.
    3. Simon Piest & Philipp Schreck, 2021. "Contests and unethical behavior in organizations: a review and synthesis of the empirical literature," Management Review Quarterly, Springer, vol. 71(4), pages 679-721, October.
    4. Victoire GIRARD, 2017. "Stabbed in the back: Does sabotage follow mandated political representation?," LEO Working Papers / DR LEO 2544, Orleans Economics Laboratory / Laboratoire d'Economie d'Orleans (LEO), University of Orleans.
    5. Victoire Girard, 2021. "Stabbed in the back? Mandated political representation and murders," Social Choice and Welfare, Springer;The Society for Social Choice and Welfare, vol. 56(4), pages 595-634, May.
    6. Subhasish Chowdhury & Oliver Gürtler, 2015. "Sabotage in contests: a survey," Public Choice, Springer, vol. 164(1), pages 135-155, July.
    7. Fornwagner, Helena, 2019. "Incentives to lose revisited: The NHL and its tournament incentives," Journal of Economic Psychology, Elsevier, vol. 75(PB).
    8. Lu, Jingfeng & Wang, Zhewei & Zhou, Lixue, 2022. "Optimal favoritism in contests with identity-contingent prizes," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 196(C), pages 40-50.
    9. Subhasish M. Chowdhury & Patricia Esteve-González & Anwesha Mukherjee, 2020. "Heterogeneity, Leveling the Playing Field, and Affirmative Action in Contests," Economics Series Working Papers 915, University of Oxford, Department of Economics.
    10. Serhat Doğan & Kerim Keskin & Çağrı Sağlam, 2019. "Sabotage in team contests," Public Choice, Springer, vol. 180(3), pages 383-405, September.

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    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • C3 - Mathematical and Quantitative Methods - - Multiple or Simultaneous Equation Models; Multiple Variables
    • 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
    • J24 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demand and Supply of Labor - - - Human Capital; Skills; Occupational Choice; Labor Productivity

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