Econometrica: Nov 2021, Volume 89, Issue 6

Team Players: How Social Skills Improve Team Performance

https://doi.org/10.3982/ECTA18461
p. 2637-2657

Ben Weidmann, David J. Deming

Most jobs require teamwork. Are some people good team players? In this paper, we design and test a new method for identifying individual contributions to team production. We randomly assign people to multiple teams and predict team performance based on previously assessed individual skills. Some people consistently cause their team to exceed its predicted performance. We call these individuals “team players.” Team players score significantly higher on a well‐established measure of social intelligence, but do not differ across a variety of other dimensions, including IQ, personality, education, and gender. Social skills—defined as a single latent factor that combines social intelligence scores with the team player effect—improve team performance about as much as IQ. We find suggestive evidence that team players increase effort among teammates.



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