Top Guns May Not Fire: Best-Shot Group Contests with Group-Specific Public Good Prizes



Journal of Economic Behavior and Organization, vol. 92, pp. 94-103, 2013



We analyze a group contest in which n groups compete to win a group-specific public good prize. Group sizes can be different and any individual player may value the prize differently within and across groups. Players expend costly efforts simultaneously and independently. Only the highest effort (the best-shot) within each group represents the group effort and the winning group is determined by a contest success function. We fully characterize the set of equilibria and show that in any equilibrium at most one player in each group exerts strictly positive effort. There always exists an equilibrium in which only the highest value player in each active group expends positive effort and the contest is reduced to an individual contest between individual players. However, there may also be equilibria in which the highest value players completely free ride on others by exerting no effort. We provide conditions under which this can be avoided and discuss contest design implications.

Roman Sheremeta