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Effort Incentives in Nomination Contests: Evidence from Professional Soccer

Miklos-Thal, Jeanine and Ullrich, Hannes (2010): Effort Incentives in Nomination Contests: Evidence from Professional Soccer.

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Abstract

In many situations, agents compete for a fixed number of attractive positions awarded on the basis of the agents' relative perceived abilities. Economic theory predicts that agents' effort incentives in such contests depend non-monotonically on their anticipated winning chances, but empirical evidence is lacking. We use panel data to study soccer players' responses to the informal contests for being on a national team participating in the 2008 Euro Cup. The control group consists of players who work for the same clubs but are nationals of countries that did not participate in the Euro Cup. We find that contest participation has substantial positive effects on the performances of players with intermediate chances of being nominated for their national team. Players whose nomination is close to certain perform worse than otherwise, particularly in dimensions that carry a high injury risk. For players without any recent national team appearances, we find no significant effects.

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