Deterrence in Rank-Order Tournaments

28 Pages Posted: 12 Dec 2005

See all articles by Philip A. Curry

Philip A. Curry

University of Waterloo

Steeve Mongrain

Simon Fraser University (SFU) - Department of Economics

Date Written: December 7, 2005


In a tournament, competitors may have the incentive to engage in undesirable activities, or cheating, in order to gain an advantage. Examples of such activities include the taking of steroids, plagiarism, and "creative accounting". This paper considers the problem of deterrence of such activities and finds that there exist special considerations that are not present in a traditional model of law enforcement. For example, an agent's decision to cheat depends on the whether others are cheating or not, and so there may exist multiple equilibria. In particular, multiple equilibria arise when prizes are simply confiscated from people found to have cheated and not re-awarded. The problem of multiple equilibria can be eliminated, however, if the first-place prize is awarded to the person that performed best without cheating. This has the effect of reducing the amount of monitoring required to generate an equilibrium in which neither agent cheats. It is demonstrated that monitoring costs can further be reduced by awarding a second-place and by monitoring the winner of the tournament more than the loser.

Keywords: Enforcement, Cheating, Tournament

JEL Classification: K42, J41

Suggested Citation

Curry, Philip A. and Mongrain, Steeve, Deterrence in Rank-Order Tournaments (December 7, 2005). Available at SSRN: or

Philip A. Curry (Contact Author)

University of Waterloo ( email )

Waterloo, Ontario N2L 3G1

Steeve Mongrain

Simon Fraser University (SFU) - Department of Economics ( email )

8888 University Drive
Burnaby, British Columbia V5A 1S6
604-291-3547 (Phone)
604-291-5944 (Fax)


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