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Quitters Never Win: The (Adverse) Incentive Effects of Competing with Superstars

Jennifer Brown
Journal of Political Economy
Vol. 119, No. 5 (October 2011), pp. 982-1013
DOI: 10.1086/663306
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/10.1086/663306
Page Count: 32
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Quitters Never Win: The (Adverse) Incentive Effects of Competing with Superstars
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Abstract

Internal competition may motivate worker effort, yet the benefits of competition may depend critically on workers’ relative abilities: large skill differences may reduce efforts. I use panel data from professional golf tournaments and find that the presence of a superstar is associated with lower performance. On average, golfers’ first-round scores are approximately 0.2 strokes worse when Tiger Woods participates relative to when Woods is absent. The overall tournament effect is 0.8 strokes. The adverse superstar effect varies with the quality of Woods’s play. There is no evidence that reduced performance is attributable to media attention intensity or risky strategy adoption.

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