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"Small, yet beautiful": Reconsidering the optimal design of multi-winner contests


  • Subhasish Modak Chowdhury

    (University of East Anglia)

  • Sang-Hyun Kim

    (University of East Anglia)


We reconsider whether a grand multi-winner contest elicits more equilibrium effort than a collection of sub-contests. Fu and Lu (2009) employ a sequential winner-selection mechanism and find support for running a grand contest. We show that this result is completely reversed if a simultaneous winner-selection mechanism or a sequential loser-elimination mechanism is implemented. We then discuss the optimal allocation of players and prizes among sub-contests, and the case in which there is restriction in the number of sub-contests.

Suggested Citation

  • Subhasish Modak Chowdhury & Sang-Hyun Kim, 2015. ""Small, yet beautiful": Reconsidering the optimal design of multi-winner contests," University of East Anglia School of Economics Working Paper Series 2015-05, School of Economics, University of East Anglia, Norwich, UK..
  • Handle: RePEc:uea:ueaeco:2015_05

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Benny Moldovanu & Aner Sela, 2001. "The Optimal Allocation of Prizes in Contests," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 91(3), pages 542-558, June.
    2. Moldovanu, Benny & Sela, Aner, 2006. "Contest architecture," Journal of Economic Theory, Elsevier, vol. 126(1), pages 70-96, January.
    3. Chowdhury, Subhasish M. & Kim, Sang-Hyun, 2014. "A note on multi-winner contest mechanisms," Economics Letters, Elsevier, vol. 125(3), pages 357-359.
    4. Nitzan, Shmuel, 1991. "Collective Rent Dissipation," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 101(409), pages 1522-1534, November.
    5. Fu, Qiang & Lu, Jingfeng, 2009. "The beauty of "bigness": On optimal design of multi-winner contests," Games and Economic Behavior, Elsevier, vol. 66(1), pages 146-161, May.
    6. Clark, Derek J & Riis, Christian, 1996. "A Multi-winner Nested Rent-Seeking Contest," Public Choice, Springer, vol. 87(1-2), pages 177-184, April.
    7. Berry, S Keith, 1993. "Rent-Seeking with Multiple Winners," Public Choice, Springer, vol. 77(2), pages 437-443, October.
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    Cited by:

    1. Czerny, Achim I. & Fosgerau, Mogens & Jost, Peter-J. & van Ommeren, Jos N., 2019. "Why pay for jobs (and not for tasks)?," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 168(C), pages 419-433.
    2. Bastani, Spencer & Giebe, Thomas & Gürtler, Oliver, 2019. "A general framework for studying contests," MPRA Paper 97363, University Library of Munich, Germany.
    3. Lu, Jingfeng & Shen, Bo & Wang, Zhewei, 2017. "Optimal contest design under reverse-lottery technology," Journal of Mathematical Economics, Elsevier, vol. 72(C), pages 25-35.
    4. Leppälä, Samuli, 2018. "Partial Exclusivity Can Resolve The Empirical Puzzles Associated With Rent-Seeking Activities," Cardiff Economics Working Papers E2018/25, Cardiff University, Cardiff Business School, Economics Section.
    5. 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.

    More about this item


    contest design; multiple winner; group-size; selection mechanism;

    JEL classification:

    • C72 - Mathematical and Quantitative Methods - - Game Theory and Bargaining Theory - - - Noncooperative Games
    • D74 - Microeconomics - - Analysis of Collective Decision-Making - - - Conflict; Conflict Resolution; Alliances; Revolutions
    • D74 - Microeconomics - - Analysis of Collective Decision-Making - - - Conflict; Conflict Resolution; Alliances; Revolutions

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