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Diversity, Social Goods Provision, and Performance in the Firm

  • Sara Ellison
  • Jeffrey Greenbaum
  • Wallace P. Mullin
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    The last decade has seen a growing interest among economists on the effect of diversity on the provision of social goods and the stock of social capital. Indeed, in the workplace, cooperation, trust, and other social goods may be important elements of the smooth functioning of an office, but firm owners ultimately care about an office’s performance, as reflected in revenues, costs, and profits. We explore this next logical question: how does diversity affect ultimate performance? We have a unique data set from a firm which operates numerous small offices in the United States and abroad. They have provided us with eight years of individual-level employee survey data, which measure quantities such as level of cooperation, as well as office-level measures of diversity and performance over that period. We find some evidence that more homogeneous offices enjoy higher levels of social goods provision but that those offices do not perform any better and may actually perform worse. We speculate that one possible reason that the more homogeneous offices do not perform better despite higher levels of social goods provision is that they do not have as diverse a portfolio of skills, talents, and interests on which to draw.

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    File URL: http://www.cesifo-group.de/portal/page/portal/DocBase_Content/WP/WP-CESifo_Working_Papers/wp-cesifo-2010/wp-cesifo-2010-09/cesifo1_wp3171.pdf
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    Paper provided by CESifo Group Munich in its series CESifo Working Paper Series with number 3171.

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    Date of creation: 2010
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    Handle: RePEc:ces:ceswps:_3171
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    1. Miguel, Edward & Gugerty, Mary Kay, 2005. "Ethnic diversity, social sanctions, and public goods in Kenya," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 89(11-12), pages 2325-2368, December.
    2. Rafael Rob & Peter Zemsky, . "Social Capital, Corporate Culture and Incentive Intensity," Penn CARESS Working Papers 7380c2f90d0b2f362ad71f139, Penn Economics Department.
    3. James M. Poterba, 1996. "Demographic Structure and the Political Economy of Public Education," NBER Working Papers 5677, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    4. Karlan, Dean & Mobius, Markus & Rosenblat, Tanya & Szeidl, Adam, 2009. "Trust and Social Collateral," Staff General Research Papers 13026, Iowa State University, Department of Economics.
    5. Dora L. Costa & Matthew E. Kahn, 2001. "Cowards and Heroes: Group Loyalty in the American Civil War," NBER Working Papers 8627, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    6. Blanchflower, David G. & Oswald, Andrew J., 2004. "Well-being over time in Britain and the USA," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 88(7-8), pages 1359-1386, July.
    7. La Ferrara, Eliana & Alesina, Alberto, 2000. "Participation in Heterogeneous Communities," Scholarly Articles 4551796, Harvard University Department of Economics.
    8. Hellerstein, Judith K & Neumark, David & Troske, Kenneth R, 1999. "Wages, Productivity, and Worker Characteristics: Evidence from Plant-Level Production Functions and Wage Equations," Journal of Labor Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 17(3), pages 409-46, July.
    9. Jacob L. Vigdor, 2004. "Community Composition and Collective Action: Analyzing Initial Mail Response to the 2000 Census," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 86(1), pages 303-312, February.
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