Sabotage in Tournaments: Evidence from a Natural Experiment

27 Pages Posted: 12 Feb 2012

See all articles by Loukas Balafoutas

Loukas Balafoutas

University of Innsbruck

Florian Lindner

affiliation not provided to SSRN

Matthias Sutter

Max Planck Institute for Research on Collective Goods

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Abstract

Many tournaments are plagued by sabotage among competitors. Typically, sabotage is welfare-reducing, but from an individual's perspective an attractive alternative to exerting positive effort. Yet, given its illegal and often immoral nature, sabotage is typically hidden, making it difficult to assess its extent and its victims. Therefore, we use data from Judo World Championships, where a rule change in 2009 basically constituted a natural experiment that introduced one costless opportunity for sabotage. In Judo, competitors can break an opponent's attack in an unsportsmanlike manner; these are seen as acts of sabotage. Based on a unique dataset of 1,422 fights, we find that the rule change in 2009 has led to a large increase in the use of sabotage. Moreover, sabotage is more likely to be employed by relatively less qualified individuals, and to be targeted at more qualified ones. From a survey among spectators, we show that sabotage is welfare-reducing.

Keywords: tournaments, sabotage, Judo, natural experiment

JEL Classification: C93, D03, L83, M51, M52

Suggested Citation

Balafoutas, Loukas and Lindner, Florian and Sutter, Matthias, Sabotage in Tournaments: Evidence from a Natural Experiment. IZA Discussion Paper No. 6316, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2003629 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.2003629

Loukas Balafoutas (Contact Author)

University of Innsbruck ( email )

Universit├Ątsstra├če 15
Innsbruck, Innsbruck 6020
Austria

Florian Lindner

affiliation not provided to SSRN

Matthias Sutter

Max Planck Institute for Research on Collective Goods ( email )

Kurt-Schumacher-Str. 10
D-53113 Bonn, 53113
Germany

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