Using contests to promote coordinated control of invasive species: an experimental evaluation.
We evaluate the effect of competing for a prize on the coordinated control of invasive species in the presence of externalities using a field experiment. We offered prizes (merit, monetary and a combination of both) to the best performer in a contest aimed at promoting the control of rodent pests, an invasive species that is responsible for large losses in stored rice, in both our context (Lao PDR) and more generally in Asia. Only monetary prizes are capable of promoting behavioral change, with relatively large effects: households in villages where prizes were offered reported losses in storage that are 25% lower than in control villages. The effect is a non-linear function of prize, with only intermediate size prizes leading to reductions in storage losses. Spillovers matter greatly, with non-participants in the contest benefiting almost as much as participants, highlighting the importance of externalities. Avoided losses are large enough to drive a reduction in rice prices in seasonally isolated markets.