Does Workplace Competition Increase Labor Supply? Evidence from a Field Experiment

Melbourne Institute Working Paper No. 14/19

Date: November 2019


Amalia R. Miller
Ragan Petrie
Carmit Segal


This paper develops a novel field experiment to test the implicit prediction of tournament theory that competition increases work time and can therefore contribute to the long work hours required in elite occupations. A majority of workers in the treatment without explicit financial incentives worked past the minimum time, but awarding a tournament prize increased work time and effort by over 80% and lowered costs of effort or output by over a third. Effort was similar with alternative (piece rate, low-prize tournament) bonuses. Men worked longer than women in the high-prize tournament, but for the same duration in other treatments.

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