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Simultaneous versus sequential all-pay auctions: an experimental study

Lian Jian (), Zheng Li () and Tracy Xiao Liu ()
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Lian Jian: University of Southern California
Zheng Li: Tsinghua University
Tracy Xiao Liu: Tsinghua University

Experimental Economics, 2017, vol. 20, issue 3, 648-669

Abstract: Abstract While both simultaneous and sequential contests are mechanisms used in practice such as crowdsourcing, job interviews and sports contests, few studies have directly compared their performance. By modeling contests as incomplete information all-pay auctions with linear costs, we analytically and experimentally show that the expected maximum effort is higher in simultaneous contests, in which contestants choose their effort levels independently and simultaneously, than in sequential contests, in which late entrants make their effort choices after observing all prior participants’ choices. Our experimental results also show that efficiency is higher in simultaneous contests than in sequential ones. Sequential contests’ efficiency drops significantly as the number of contestants increases. We also discover that when participants’ ability follows a power distribution, high ability players facing multiple opponents in simultaneous contests tend to under-exert effort, compared to theoretical predictions. We explain this observation using a simple model of overconfidence.

Keywords: Sequential all-pay auctions; Experiment (search for similar items in EconPapers)
JEL-codes: C7 C91 (search for similar items in EconPapers)
Date: 2017
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