Deadlines in stochastic contests

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Christian Seel, Matthias Lang and Philipp Strack
Journal of Mathematical Economics
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We consider a two-player contest model in which breakthroughs arrive according to privately observed Poisson processes. Each player’s process continues as long as she exerts costly effort. The player who collects the most breakthroughs until a predetermined deadline wins a prize. We derive Nash equilibria of the game depending on the deadline. For short deadlines, there is a unique equilibrium in which players use identical cutoff strategies, i.e., they continue until they have a certain number of successes. If the deadline is long enough, the symmetric equilibrium distribution of an all-pay auction is an equilibrium distribution over successes in the contest. Expected efforts may be maximal for a short or intermediate deadline.
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