Learning by Doing in Contests

By: Tore Nilssen and Derek J. Clark

Published in: Public Choice (2013); Vol. 156(1-2), pages 329-343.


We introduce learning by doing in a dynamic contest. Contestants compete in an early round and can use the experience gained to reduce effort cost in a subsequent contest. A contest designer can decide how much of the prize mass to distribute in the early contest and how much to leave for the later one in order to maximize total efforts. We show how this division affects effort at each stage, and present conditions that characterize the optimal split. There is a trade off here, since a large early prize increases first period efforts leading to a substantial reduction in second round effort cost; on the other hand, there is less of the prize mass to fight over in the second round, reducing effort at that stage. The results are indicative of the fact that the designer often prefers to leave most of the prize mass for the second contest to reap the gains from the learning by doing effect.

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Published June 18, 2013 2:43 PM - Last modified June 25, 2014 1:42 PM