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Diversity, Social Goods Provision, and Performance in the Firm


  • Sara Ellison
  • Jeffrey Greenbaum
  • Wallace P. Mullin


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.

Suggested Citation

  • Sara Ellison & Jeffrey Greenbaum & Wallace P. Mullin, 2010. "Diversity, Social Goods Provision, and Performance in the Firm," CESifo Working Paper Series 3171, CESifo Group Munich.
  • Handle: RePEc:ces:ceswps:_3171

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. 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.
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    3. Rafael Rob & Peter Zemsky, 2002. "Social Capital, Corporate Culture, and Incentive Intensity," RAND Journal of Economics, The RAND Corporation, vol. 33(2), pages 243-257, Summer.
    4. Dean Karlan & Markus Mobius & Tanya Rosenblat & Adam Szeidl, 2009. "Trust and Social Collateral," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 124(3), pages 1307-1361.
    5. James M. Poterba, 1997. "Demographic structure and the political economy of public education," Journal of Policy Analysis and Management, John Wiley & Sons, Ltd., vol. 16(1), pages 48-66.
    6. Dora L. Costa & Matthew E. Kahn, 2003. "Cowards and Heroes: Group Loyalty in the American Civil War," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 118(2), pages 519-548.
    7. 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 409-446, July.
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    9. 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.
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    Cited by:

    1. Dev, Pritha & Mberu, Blessing & Pongou, Roland, 2013. "Communitarianism, Oppositional Cultures, and Human Capital Contagion: Theory and Evidence from Formal versus Koranic Education," MPRA Paper 46234, University Library of Munich, Germany, revised 15 Apr 2013.

    More about this item


    diversity; social goods;

    JEL classification:

    • J16 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demographic Economics - - - Economics of Gender; Non-labor Discrimination
    • L20 - Industrial Organization - - Firm Objectives, Organization, and Behavior - - - General


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