We conduct a field experiment with 302 workers of the microcredit company in Russia to study the effects of the different designs of a contest for monetary prizes at the workplace. We consider a standard all-pay auction design with two and four prizes of different size and compare it to "parallel" contests with the same prizes, but where participants have to choose the prize prior to the start of the competition and then the winner is selected only among the players who chose the same prize. Despite the theoretical predictions, the parallel contests lead to higher efforts for all players, but mainly by lower-ability players. Division of prizes leads to the predicted effects. In parallel contests, too many players choose the higher prize than equilibrium suggests. Overall, the parallel version of contests appeared to be more profitable for the firm.
contests incomplete information all-pay auctions field experiment