Sabotage in Contests: A Survey

40 Pages Posted: 10 Oct 2013

See all articles by Subhasish M. Chowdhury

Subhasish M. Chowdhury

University of Bath - Department of Economics

Oliver Gürtler

University of Cologne

Date Written: October 9, 2013


A contest is a situation in which individuals expend resources in order to win valuable prize(s). 'Sabotage' is a deliberate, and often costly and illegal, act of damaging a rival's likelihood of winning the contest. It is done by exerting resources to negatively influence the effectiveness of a rival's efforts, or by increasing the rival's cost of effort, or by denying the rival access to resources. Sabotage can be observed in sports, war, promotional tournaments, political or marketing campaigns etc. In this article, we review the economics literature analyzing the act of sabotage in contests. We introduce a general structure and discuss the theories and evidence highlighting why sabotage occurs, the effects of sabotage on individual players and on overall welfare, and possible mechanisms to reduce the act of sabotage. We conclude by pointing out certain areas of future research.

Keywords: Contest, Tournament, Sabotage, Survey

JEL Classification: C72, C91, C92, D72, D74, M51, M52

Suggested Citation

Chowdhury, Subhasish M. and Gürtler, Oliver, Sabotage in Contests: A Survey (October 9, 2013). Available at SSRN: or

Subhasish M. Chowdhury

University of Bath - Department of Economics ( email )

Claverton Down
Bath, BA2 7AY
United Kingdom

HOME PAGE: http://

Oliver Gürtler (Contact Author)

University of Cologne ( email )

Cologne, 50923

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