Tournaments and Office Politics: Evidence from a Real Effort Experiment

31 Pages Posted: 1 Sep 2007

See all articles by Jeffrey P. Carpenter

Jeffrey P. Carpenter

Middlebury College - Department of Economics; IZA Institute of Labor Economics

Peter Hans Matthews

Middlebury College - Department of Economics

John Schirm

Google Inc.

Date Written: August 2007

Abstract

In many environments, tournaments can elicit more effort from workers, except perhaps when workers can sabotage each other. Because it is hard to separate effort, ability and output in many real workplace settings, the empirical evidence on the incentive effect of tournaments is thin. There is even less evidence on the impact of sabotage because real world acts of sabotage are often subtle manifestations of subjective peer evaluation or office politics. We discuss a real effort experiment in which effort, quality adjusted output and office politics are compared under piece rates and tournaments. Our results suggest that tournaments increase effort only in the absence of office politics. Competitors are more likely to sabotage each other in tournaments and, as a result, workers actually provide less effort simply because they expect to be the victims of sabotage. Adjusting output for quality with the rating of an independent auditor shrinks the incentive effect of the tournament even further since output tends to become more slipshod.

Keywords: C92, J33, J41

JEL Classification: tournament, sabotage, real effort, experiment

Suggested Citation

Carpenter, Jeffrey P. and Matthews, Peter Hans and Schirm, John, Tournaments and Office Politics: Evidence from a Real Effort Experiment (August 2007). IZA Discussion Paper No. 2972. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=1011134

Jeffrey P. Carpenter (Contact Author)

Middlebury College - Department of Economics ( email )

Munroe Hall
Middlebury, VT 05753
United States
802-443-3241 (Phone)
802-443-2084 (Fax)

HOME PAGE: http://community.middlebury.edu/~jcarpent/index.ht

IZA Institute of Labor Economics

P.O. Box 7240
Bonn, D-53072
Germany

Peter Hans Matthews

Middlebury College - Department of Economics ( email )

Munroe Hall
Middlebury, VT 05753
United States
802 443-5591 (Phone)
802 443-2084 (Fax)

John Schirm

Google Inc. ( email )

1600 Amphitheatre Parkway
Second Floor
Mountain View, CA 94043
United States

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