Incentives versus sorting in tournaments: Evidence
from a field experiment
Bas van der Klaauw
Journal of Labor Economics 29, 637-658 (2011).
Existing field evidence on rank-order tournaments typically does not allow disentangling incentive and sorting effects. We conduct a field experiment illustrating the confounding effect. Students in an introductory microeconomics courses selected themselves into tournaments with low, medium, or high prizes for the best score at the final exam. Non-experimental analysis of the results would suggest that higher rewards induce higher productivity, but a comparison between treatment and control groups reveals that there is no such effect. This stresses the importance of non-random sorting into tournaments.
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Last updated: June 20, 2011.