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Why we set up a Global Seminar on contest & conflicts

Scientific seminar series and conference activities have come to a standstill worldwide, due to the pandemic. A vacuum has been formed and we miss the intellectual exchange of ideas about research. To fill this vacuum and to give all researchers interested in contests and the theory of conflict the opportunity to stay in touch, we need a platform. The Global Seminar can be the appropriate format for this, not only for individual regions but for the whole world. Perhaps other communication formats will develop over time in connection with this platform. But we will start with a series of presentations every two weeks, moving west about eight time zones each week, with the local coordinator inviting, introducing and leading the discussion.


Who we are

The Global Seminar is founded and supported by seven people who work at different academic universities around the world:

Kai A.
Tracy Xiao


What we do

What unites the members of this group is that they are intrigued by the study of processes in which individuals or groups compete for scarce and valuable resources, making costly efforts themselves and sacrificing them, whether or not they end up winning the resources. Such processes can be found in many and very different areas of life. To name just a few examples: sporting or professional tournaments, prize competitions, election campaigns, military conflicts, court cases or patent races.


Current Events

01/27/2021 | Optimal prizes in tournaments under nonseparable preferences
Contests & Conflict | 01/27/2021 | 07:00 AM

Speaker: Mikhail Drugov

Mikhail Drugov will present his paper titled "Optimal prizes in tournaments under nonseparable preferences" (joint with Dmitry Ryvkin).

Abstract of the paper:
We study rank-order tournaments with risk-averse agents whose utility over money and effort (or leisure) may be nonseparable. We characterize the optimal prize schedule when the principal allocates a fixed budget and show how it is determined by the interplay between the properties of noise and the utility function. In particular, the distribution of noise alone determines whether the optimal prize schedule has flat regions where some number of prizes are equal, while the total number of positive prizes depends on both the noise distribution and utility function. For unimodal noise distributions, the optimal number of positive prizes is restricted regardless of utility under mild assumptions. Also, while the common wisdom suggests---and it holds in the separable case---that risk aversion pushes optimal prize allocations in the direction of prize sharing, this is no longer true, in general, when the marginal utility of money depends on effort.

Chair: Tracy Xiao Liu
Co-Chair: Qiang Fu

Contact Person

Event Team

Max Planck Institute for Tax Law and Public Finance

Marstallplatz 1
80539 Munich

Phone: +49-89-24246-5255
Fax: +49-89-24246-5299

Mail: contests@tax.mpg.de