Races vs. Tournaments

Contests are frequently used to raise the workers’ productivity and innovation in business, government, and many other settings.  They can take many different formats or designs, but two seem prevalent:  the race and the tournament. Races set the incentives by rewarding the first person to meet a specified, typically hard-to-reach,  technical goal.  Tournaments set the incentives by rewarding the competitor attaining the highest performance in a given period.  In this study, we use a field experiment on a popular crowdsourcing platform (Topcoder) to measure empirically the differences in performance and participation of competitors randomly assigned to either a race or a tournament competition.