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

Author

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  • 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)

Abstract

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.

Suggested Citation

  • Jose Apesteguia & Ghazala Azmat & Nagore Iriberri, 2012. "The Impact of Gender Composition on Team Performance and Decision Making: Evidence from the Field," Management Science, INFORMS, vol. 58(1), pages 78-93, January.
  • Handle: RePEc:inm:ormnsc:v:58:y:2012:i:1:p:78-93
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    File URL: http://dx.doi.org/10.1287/mnsc.1110.1348
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    More about this item

    Keywords

    gender; teams; performance; decision making;

    JEL classification:

    • D03 - Microeconomics - - General - - - Behavioral Microeconomics: Underlying Principles
    • D21 - Microeconomics - - Production and Organizations - - - Firm Behavior: Theory
    • J16 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demographic Economics - - - Economics of Gender; Non-labor Discrimination

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