Expectations as Reference Points: Field Evidence from Professional Soccer

Forthcoming in: Management Science

44 Pages Posted: 8 May 2012 Last revised: 23 Jul 2014

See all articles by Björn Bartling

Björn Bartling

University of Zurich - Department of Economics; Norwegian School of Economics (NHH) - Department of Economics; CESifo (Center for Economic Studies and Ifo Institute)

Leif Brandes

University of Lucerne

Daniel Schunk

Johannes Gutenberg University Mainz - Gutenberg School of Economics and Management; University of Zurich - Department of Economics

Multiple version iconThere are 2 versions of this paper

Date Written: July 19, 2014

Abstract

We show that professional soccer players and their coaches exhibit reference-dependent behavior during matches. Controlling for the state of the match and for unobserved heterogeneity, we show on a minute-by-minute basis that players breach the rules of the game, measured by the referee's assignment of cards, significantly more often if their teams are behind the expected match outcome, measured by pre-play betting odds of large professional bookmakers. We further show that coaches implement significantly more offensive substitutions if their teams are behind expectation. Both types of behaviors impair the expected ultimate match outcome of the team, which shows that our findings do not simply reflect fully rational responses to reference-dependent incentive schemes of favorite teams falling behind. We derive these results in a data set that contains more than 8'200 matches from 12 seasons of the German Bundesliga and 12 seasons of the English Premier League.

Keywords: reference points, expectations, experience, high stakes, competition

JEL Classification: C23, D03, D81, D84

Suggested Citation

Bartling, Björn and Brandes, Leif and Schunk, Daniel, Expectations as Reference Points: Field Evidence from Professional Soccer (July 19, 2014). Forthcoming in: Management Science, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2053180 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.2053180

Björn Bartling (Contact Author)

University of Zurich - Department of Economics ( email )

Zuerich, 8006
Switzerland

Norwegian School of Economics (NHH) - Department of Economics ( email )

Helleveien 30
N-5035 Bergen
Norway

CESifo (Center for Economic Studies and Ifo Institute) ( email )

Poschinger Str. 5
Munich, DE-81679
Germany

Leif Brandes

University of Lucerne ( email )

Lucerne
Switzerland

Daniel Schunk

Johannes Gutenberg University Mainz - Gutenberg School of Economics and Management ( email )

Mainz
Germany

University of Zurich - Department of Economics ( email )

Bluemlisalpstr. 10
Zurich, 8006
Switzerland

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