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Designing Contests Between Heterogeneous Contestants: An Experimental Study of Tie-Breaks and Bid-Caps in All-Pay Auctions

Designing Contests Between Heterogeneous Contestants: An Experimental Study of Tie-Breaks and Bid-Caps in All-Pay Auctions
Autor: Aniol Llorente-Saguer, Roman M. Sheremeta und Nora Szech

 

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Datum: May 2016

 A well-known theoretical result in the contest literature is that greater heterogeneity decreases performance of contestants because of the ‘discouragement effect’. Leveling the playing field by favoring weaker contestants through bid-caps and favorable tie-breaking rules can reduce the discouragement effect and increase the designer’s revenue. We test these predictions in an experiment. Our data show that indeed, strengthening weaker contestants through tie-breaks and bid-caps significantly diminishes the discouragement effect. Bid-caps can also improve revenue. Most deviations from Nash equilibrium can be explained by the level-k model of reasoning.