Pedaling peers: The effect of targets on performance

Markus Baldauf, Joshua Mollner*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Scopus citations


Individuals facing competitive targets increase their effort but respond non-monotonically to the target's difficulty. We use a novel dataset of informal amateur cycling competitions to track the responses of individuals to competitively-set targets (in the form of displacement from the top of a leaderboard). Modeling the choice problem of these individuals, we derive a set of testable hypotheses. We find, as predicted by the model, that individuals compete sooner and more intensely after displacement. As our main result, we find an inverted-U relationship between the increase in effort and the size of the displacement.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)90-103
Number of pages14
JournalJournal of Economic Behavior and Organization
StatePublished - Nov 2019


  • Effort choice
  • Peer competition
  • Rank incentives
  • Targets

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Economics and Econometrics
  • Organizational Behavior and Human Resource Management


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