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The Impact of Gender Composition on Team Performance and Decision Making: Evidence from the Field

  • Jose Apesteguia

    ()

    (ICREA, Universitat Pompeu Fabra and Barcelona Graduate School of Economics, 08005 Barcelona, Spain)

  • Ghazala Azmat

    ()

    (Universitat Pompeu Fabra and Barcelona Graduate School of Economics, 08005 Barcelona, Spain)

  • Nagore Iriberri

    ()

    (Universitat Pompeu Fabra and Barcelona Graduate School of Economics, 08005 Barcelona, Spain)

We investigate whether the gender composition of teams affects their economic performance. We study a large business game, played in groups of three, in which each group takes the role of a general manager. There are two parallel competitions, one involving undergraduates and the other involving MBA students. Our analysis shows that teams formed by three women are significantly outperformed by all other gender combinations, both at the undergraduate and MBA levels. Looking across the performance distribution, we find that for undergraduates, three-women teams are outperformed throughout, but by as much as 0.47 of a standard deviation of the mean at the bottom and by only 0.09 at the top. For MBA students, at the top, the best performing group is two men and one woman. The differences in performance are explained by differences in decision making. We observe that three-women teams are less aggressive in their pricing strategies, invest less in research and development, and invest more in social sustainability initiatives than does any other gender combination. This paper was accepted by Brad Barber, Teck Ho, and Terrance Odean, special issue editors.

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File URL: http://dx.doi.org/10.1287/mnsc.1110.1348
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Article provided by INFORMS in its journal Management Science.

Volume (Year): 58 (2012)
Issue (Month): 1 (January)
Pages: 78-93

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Handle: RePEc:inm:ormnsc:v:58:y:2012:i:1:p:78-93
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  1. Marianne Bertrand & Claudia Goldin & Lawrence F. Katz, 2010. "Dynamics of the Gender Gap for Young Professionals in the Financial and Corporate Sectors," American Economic Journal: Applied Economics, American Economic Association, vol. 2(3), pages 228-55, July.
  2. Gary Charness & Luca Rigotti & Aldo Rustichini, 2007. "Individual Behavior and Group Membership," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 97(4), pages 1340-1352, September.
  3. Zinovyeva, Natalia & Bagues, Manuel F., 2011. "Does Gender Matter for Academic Promotion? Evidence from a Randomized Natural Experiment," IZA Discussion Papers 5537, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
  4. Manuel F. Bagues & Berta Esteve-Volart, 2010. "Can Gender Parity Break the Glass Ceiling? Evidence from a Repeated Randomized Experiment," Review of Economic Studies, Oxford University Press, vol. 77(4), pages 1301-1328.
  5. Charness, Gary B & Gneezy, Uri, 2007. "Strong Evidence for Gender Differences in Investment," University of California at Santa Barbara, Economics Working Paper Series qt428481s8, Department of Economics, UC Santa Barbara.
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