Sabotage in Tournaments: Making the Beautiful Game a Bit Less Beautiful

27 Pages Posted: 24 Oct 2005  

Luis Garicano

University of Chicago - Booth School of Business - Economics; Centre for Economic Policy Research (CEPR)

Ignacio Palacios-Huerta

London School of Economics

Date Written: September 2005

Abstract

We exploit an incentive change in professional soccer leagues aimed at encouraging more attacking and goal scoring to obtain evidence on the effect of stronger incentives on productive and destructive effort. Using as control the behavior of the same teams in a competition that experienced no changes in incentives, we provide differences-in-differences estimates of the effect of the incentive change on the behavior of teams. We find that, although teams increased offensive effort, they also increased destructive effort ('sabotage') substantially, resulting in no net change in scoring. When ahead, teams became more conservative, increasing their defenders, scoring less goals, and allowing fewer attempts to score by their opponents. We also find that teams that engage more in sabotage activities depress the attendance at their rival's home stadiums, and that indeed attendance suffered as a result of the incentive change. Thus, teams responded to stronger incentives, but in an undesirable way.

Keywords: Incentives, sabotage, multitasking, tournaments

JEL Classification: D21, D82, J41, L14, M52, M55

Suggested Citation

Garicano, Luis and Palacios-Huerta, Ignacio, Sabotage in Tournaments: Making the Beautiful Game a Bit Less Beautiful (September 2005). CEPR Discussion Paper No. 5231. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=831964

Luis Garicano (Contact Author)

University of Chicago - Booth School of Business - Economics ( email )

Graduate School of Business
1101 East 58th Street
Chicago, IL 60637
United States
773-834-2862 (Phone)
773-702-0458 (Fax)

Centre for Economic Policy Research (CEPR)

77 Bastwick Street
London, EC1V 3PZ
United Kingdom

Ignacio Palacios-Huerta

London School of Economics ( email )

Dept. of Management
Houghton Street
London, WC2A 2AE
United Kingdom

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