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American Economic Review: Vol. 100 No. 1 (March 2010)

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Tournaments and Office Politics: Evidence from a Real Effort Experiment

Article Citation

Carpenter, Jeffrey, Peter Hans Matthews, and John Schirm. 2010. "Tournaments and Office Politics: Evidence from a Real Effort Experiment." American Economic Review, 100(1): 504-17.

DOI: 10.1257/aer.100.1.504

Abstract

Tournaments can elicit more effort but sabotage may attenuate the effect of competition. Because it is hard to separate effort and ability, the evidence on tournaments is thin. There is even less evidence on sabotage because these acts often consist of subjective peer evaluation or "office politics." We discuss real effort experiments in which quality adjusted output and office politics are compared under piece rates and tournaments and find that tournaments increase effort only in the absence of office politics. Competitors subvert each other more in tournaments, and as a result, workers produce less because they expect to be sabotaged. (D82, M54)

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Authors

Carpenter, Jeffrey (Middlebury College and IZA)
Matthews, Peter Hans (Middlebury College and IZA)
Schirm, John (Google, San Francisco, CA)

JEL Classifications

D82: Asymmetric and Private Information
M54: Personnel Economics: Labor Management


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