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

  • Jose Apesteguia
  • Ghazala Azmat
  • Nagore Iriberri

We investigate whether the gender composition of teams affect their economic performance. We study a large business game, played in groups of three, where each group takes the role of a general manager. There are two parallel competitions, one involving undergraduates and the other involving MBAs. Our analysis shows that teams formed by three women are significantly outperformed by any other gender combination, 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 10pp at the bottom and by only 1pp at the top. For MBAs, 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 R&D, and invest more in social sustainability initiatives, than any other gender combination teams. Finally, we find support for the hypothesis that it is poor work dynamics among the three women teams that drives the results.

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Paper provided by Barcelona Graduate School of Economics in its series Working Papers with number 485.

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Date of creation: Jul 2010
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Handle: RePEc:bge:wpaper:485
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  1. Natalia Zinovyeva & Manuel F. Bagues, 2010. "Does gender matter for academic promotion? Evidence from a randomized natural experiment," Working Papers 2010-15, FEDEA.
  2. 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.
  3. Goldin, Claudia D. & Bertrand, Marianne & Katz, Lawrence F., 2010. "Dynamics of the Gender Gap for Young Professionals in the Financial and Corporate Sectors," Scholarly Articles 8810041, Harvard University Department of Economics.
  4. 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.
  5. 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.
  6. repec:dgr:uvatin:20090069 is not listed on IDEAS
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