Learning from Coarse Information: Biased Contests and Career Profiles


Margaret A. Meyer 

Nuffield College, Oxford University



Review of Economic Studies, (1991), 58, pp.15-41.
An organization's promotion decision between two workers in modelled as a problem of boundedly-rational learning about ability. The decision-maker can bias noisy rank-order contests sequentially, thereby changing the information they convey. The optimal final-period bias favours the "leader", reinforcing his likely ability advantage. When optimally biased rank-order information is a sufficient statistic for cardinal information, the leader is favoured in every period. In other environments, bias in early periods may (i) favour the early loser, (ii) be optimal even when the workers are equally rated, and (iii) reduce the favoured worker's promotion chances.