Mechanism Design Meets Priority Design: Redesigning the Us Army's Branching Process

69 Pages Posted: 14 Jun 2021 Last revised: 31 Dec 2021

See all articles by Kyle Greenberg

Kyle Greenberg

United States Military Academy, West Point

Parag A. Pathak

Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) - Department of Economics

Tayfun Sonmez

Boston College

Date Written: June 2021

Abstract

Army cadets obtain occupations through a centralized process. Three objectives – increasing retention, aligning talent, and enhancing trust – have guided reforms to this process since 2006. West Point’s mechanism for the Class of 2020 exacerbated challenges implementing Army policy aims. We formulate these desiderata as axioms and study their implications theoretically and with administrative data. We show that the Army’s objectives not only determine an allocation mechanism, but also a specific priority policy, a uniqueness result that integrates mechanism and priority design. These results led to a re-design of the mechanism, now adopted at both West Point and ROTC.

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Suggested Citation

Greenberg, Kyle and Pathak, Parag A. and Sonmez, Tayfun, Mechanism Design Meets Priority Design: Redesigning the Us Army's Branching Process (June 2021). NBER Working Paper No. w28911, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3866344

Kyle Greenberg (Contact Author)

United States Military Academy, West Point ( email )

600 Thayer Rd
West Point, NY 10996
United States

Parag A. Pathak

Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) - Department of Economics ( email )

50 Memorial Drive
E52-391
Cambridge, MA 02142
United States

Tayfun Sonmez

Boston College ( email )

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