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Competition in the workplace: An experimental investigation


  • Benndorf, Volker
  • Rau, Holger A.


We analyze competition between workers in a gift-exchange experiment where two workers are hired by the same employer. In the competition treatment the two employees simultaneously choose their effort whereas in the baseline treatment competition cannot occur since there is only one employee per employer. We find that in the competition treatment employers implicitly set tournament incentives by rewarding employees who choose higher effort levels than their co-workers. Here, employees' effort levels increase significantly faster, which can be explained by imitation learning. Furthermore we find that employers decrease their wage payments per unit of effort exerted over time when employing two workers.

Suggested Citation

  • Benndorf, Volker & Rau, Holger A., 2012. "Competition in the workplace: An experimental investigation," DICE Discussion Papers 53, University of Düsseldorf, Düsseldorf Institute for Competition Economics (DICE).
  • Handle: RePEc:zbw:dicedp:53

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    More about this item


    Gift Exchange; Competition; Internal Organization; Multiple Employees;

    JEL classification:

    • C91 - Mathematical and Quantitative Methods - - Design of Experiments - - - Laboratory, Individual Behavior
    • J41 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Particular Labor Markets - - - Labor Contracts
    • L22 - Industrial Organization - - Firm Objectives, Organization, and Behavior - - - Firm Organization and Market Structure
    • M52 - Business Administration and Business Economics; Marketing; Accounting; Personnel Economics - - Personnel Economics - - - Compensation and Compensation Methods and Their Effects

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