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Sabotage vs Discouragement: Which Dominates Post Promotion Tournament Behavior?

by Johnson, David and Salmon, Timothy

We explore the behavior of losers of promotion tournaments after the tournament is concluded. We do so through the use of an experiment in which we vary the design of the promotion tournament to determine how tournament design affects post tournament effort. We provide a theoretical model demonstrating two possible effects from the tournaments which are strategic sabotage and the possibility that a worker becomes discouraged by the tournament outcome. We examine behavior after the tournament and find evidence suggesting that bad tournament design can lead to workers being discouraged. This discouragement effect is strong for low ability workers but not for high ability workers. On the other hand we do find evidence that some high ability workers engage in strategic sabotage but the incidence does not vary with the design of the promotion tournament.

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