Tournament Rewards and Risk Taking

19 Pages Posted: 21 Oct 1999

See all articles by Hans K. Hvide

Hans K. Hvide

University of Bergen - Department of Economics; University of Aberdeen - Business School; Centre for Economic Policy Research (CEPR); Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA)

Date Written: September 23, 1999


I consider two seemingly unrelated puzzles. 1.Why is relative performance evaluation (RPE) used less in CEO compensation than agency theory suggests? 2.Why is sometimes, e.g., for fund managers, a 'modest' performance more highly rewarded than 'very high' performances? I consider a simple tournament model where agents can influence the spread of output in addition to its mean. I show that standard tournament rewards induce risky and lazy behavior from the agents. This finding sheds light on Puzzle 1. Second, I consider a scheme that ranks agents according to their relative closeness to a benchmark k. I show that there exists intermediate values of k such that the risky-lazy problem of the standard tournament can be mitigated, and first best level of effort can be implemented. This result sheds light on Puzzle 2.

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JEL Classification: C72, D29, G20, J41

Suggested Citation

Hvide, Hans, Tournament Rewards and Risk Taking (September 23, 1999). Available at SSRN: or

Hans Hvide (Contact Author)

University of Bergen - Department of Economics ( email )

Fosswinckelsgt. 6
N-5007 Bergen, 5007

University of Aberdeen - Business School ( email )

Edward Wright Building
Dunbar Street
Aberdeen, Scotland AB24 3QY
United Kingdom


Centre for Economic Policy Research (CEPR)

United Kingdom

Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA) ( email )

P.O. Box 7240
Bonn, D-53072

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