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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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    1. Superstars' baleful effects
      by chris dillow in Stumbling and Mumbling on 2013-05-22 18:11:26

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    Cited by:

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    2. Bryan, Mark & Bryson, Alex, 2016. "Has performance pay increased wage inequality in Britain?," Labour Economics, Elsevier, vol. 41(C), pages 149-161.
    3. Besters, Lucas, 2018. "Economics of professional football," Other publications TiSEM d9e6b9b7-a17b-4665-9cca-1, Tilburg University, School of Economics and Management.
    4. Swarnodeep Homroy & Kwok Tong Soo, 2014. "The impact of diversity on group and individual performance," Working Papers 65528509, Lancaster University Management School, Economics Department.
    5. Sander Hoogendoorn & Simon C. Parker & Mirjam van Praag, 2017. "Smart or Diverse Start-up Teams? Evidence from a Field Experiment," Organization Science, INFORMS, vol. 28(6), pages 1010-1028, December.
    6. Kerry L. Papps, 2020. "Sports at the vanguard of labor market policy," IZA World of Labor, Institute of Labor Economics (IZA), pages 481-481, October.
    7. Carlo Bellavite Pellegrini & Raul Caruso & Marco Di Domizio, 2021. "Relative wages, payroll structure and performance in soccer. Evidence from Italian Serie A (2007-2019)," DISCE - Quaderni del Dipartimento di Politica Economica dipe0015, Università Cattolica del Sacro Cuore, Dipartimenti e Istituti di Scienze Economiche (DISCE).
    8. 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.
    9. Swarnodeep Homroy & Kwok Tong Soo, 2020. "Team diversity and individual performance," Manchester School, University of Manchester, vol. 88(4), pages 507-530, July.
    10. Joseph Kuehn, 2017. "Accounting For Complementary Skill Sets: Evaluating Individual Marginal Value To A Team In The National Basketball Association," Economic Inquiry, Western Economic Association International, vol. 55(3), pages 1556-1578, July.
    11. Sander Hoogendoorn & Simon C. Parker & Mirjam van Praag, 2014. "Ability Dispersion and Team Performance," Tinbergen Institute Discussion Papers 14-053/VII, Tinbergen Institute.
    12. 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.
    13. Fellner-Röhling, Gerlinde & Kröger, Sabine & Seki, Erika, 2020. "Public good production in heterogeneous groups: An experimental analysis on the relation between external return and information," Journal of Behavioral and Experimental Economics (formerly The Journal of Socio-Economics), Elsevier, vol. 84(C).

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    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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