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

27 Pages Posted: 24 Oct 2005

See all articles by Luis Garicano

Luis Garicano

IE Business School; Centre for Economic Policy Research (CEPR)

Ignacio Isabel 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 Isabel, 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)

IE Business School ( email )

Calle MarĂ­a de Molina, 11
Madrid, 28006
Spain

Centre for Economic Policy Research (CEPR)

London
United Kingdom

Ignacio Isabel Palacios-Huerta

London School of Economics ( email )

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

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