Nathan J. Ashby


Using enrollment based classification realignments for high school cross country running competitions in the state of Texas, we analyze the impact of changes in the intensity of competition on individual and team performance. The analysis demonstrates significant improvement in the performance of teams promoted to more competitive classifications in the boys’ division but does not yield similar results in the girls’ division. We also analyze the impact on runners according to their rankings within teams and find improvements to be greater for runners ranking lower relative to team leaders driven by heterogeneity in motivation based on ability or the sequential stage. If the objective is to maximize runner potential, our findings suggest that the time summation method provides stronger incentive alignment than the rank-summation method in team competition. The general implications are significant for determining optimal incentive structures in team-based production processes with significant spillovers from individual performance.