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Heterogeneous worker ability and team-based production: Evidence from major league baseball, 1920-2009

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  • Papps, Kerry L.
  • Bryson, Alex
  • Gomez, Rafael

Abstract

A detailed longitudinal dataset is assembled containing annual performance and biographical data for every player over the entire history of professional major league baseball. The data are then aggregated to the team level for the period 1920-2009 in order to test whether teams built on a more even distribution of observed talent perform better than those teams with a mixture of highly able and less able players. The dependent variable used in the regressions is the percentage of games a team wins each season. We find that conditioning on average player ability, dispersion of both batting and pitching talent displays an optimal degree of inequality, in that teams with too high or too low a spread in player ability perform worse than teams with a more balanced distribution of offensive and defensive talent. These findings have potentially important applications both inside and outside the sporting world.

Suggested Citation

  • Papps, Kerry L. & Bryson, Alex & Gomez, Rafael, 2011. "Heterogeneous worker ability and team-based production: Evidence from major league baseball, 1920-2009," Labour Economics, Elsevier, vol. 18(3), pages 310-319, June.
  • Handle: RePEc:eee:labeco:v:18:y:2011:i:3:p:310-319
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    Cited by:

    1. Hoogendoorn, Sander M. & Parker, Simon C. & van Praag, Mirjam C., 2012. "Ability Dispersion and Team Performance: A Field Experiment," IZA Discussion Papers 7044, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
    2. Bryan, Mark & Bryson, Alex, 2016. "Has performance pay increased wage inequality in Britain?," Labour Economics, Elsevier, vol. 41(C), pages 149-161.
    3. Gerlinde Fellner & Yoshio Iida & Sabine Kröger & Erika Seki, 2014. "The Relation between Information and Heterogeneous Ability in Joint Projects - An experimental Analysis -," Cahiers de recherche 1411, CIRPEE.
    4. Besters, Lucas, 2018. "Economics of professional football," Other publications TiSEM d9e6b9b7-a17b-4665-9cca-1, Tilburg University, School of Economics and Management.
    5. Swarnodeep Homroy & Kwok Tong Soo, 2014. "The impact of diversity on group and individual performance," Working Papers 65528509, Lancaster University Management School, Economics Department.
    6. repec:bla:ecinqu:v:55:y:2017:i:3:p:1556-1578 is not listed on IDEAS
    7. Sander Hoogendoorn & Simon C. Parker & Mirjam van Praag, 2014. "Ability Dispersion and Team Performance," Tinbergen Institute Discussion Papers 14-053/VII, Tinbergen Institute.
    8. Aurélie BONEIN, 2014. "Social Comparison and Peer effects with Heterogeneous Ability," Economics Working Paper Archive (University of Rennes 1 & University of Caen) 201411, Center for Research in Economics and Management (CREM), University of Rennes 1, University of Caen and CNRS.

    More about this item

    Keywords

    Baseball Inequality Team performance Worker organisation;

    JEL classification:

    • L23 - Industrial Organization - - Firm Objectives, Organization, and Behavior - - - Organization of Production
    • L25 - Industrial Organization - - Firm Objectives, Organization, and Behavior - - - Firm Performance
    • L83 - Industrial Organization - - Industry Studies: Services - - - Sports; Gambling; Restaurants; Recreation; Tourism
    • M51 - Business Administration and Business Economics; Marketing; Accounting; Personnel Economics - - Personnel Economics - - - Firm Employment Decisions; Promotions

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