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The Effects of Coworker Heterogeneity on Firm-Level Output: Assessing the Impacts of Cultural and Language Diversity in the National Hockey League


  • L H Kahane
  • N Longley
  • R Simmons


We use a publicly available data set drawn from the professional sport industry to test for the impacts of coworker heterogeneity on firm performance. We focus particularly on the National Hockey League (NHL). NHL teams are truly global firms - they employ workers (players) from a variety of non-English-speaking countries, all of whom are integrated into a single work group (i.e. team). Players from different countries not only bring different languages and cultures, but also bring different playing styles - styles which must be effectively integrated into a cohesive playing unit. We use a panel data set that spans the seasons 2001-02 to 2007-08, and we control for a wide variety of variables that may affect a team's output. The question we pose is: all else equal, does the specific nationality mix on a team matter? In other words, for a given number of foreign players on a team, is it better to have all foreign players from a single country, or should teams attempt to employ foreign players from a variety of countries? Our results indicate that teams that are made up of mostly homogeneous European players appear to gain an advantage in team performance. Also, it appears that NHL teams perform better when their European players tend to come from the same country, rather than being spread across many European countries. We suggest that firms need to be cognizant of the way in which they diversify since the gains from diversity may be greatest when the foreign component of the workforce has, within itself, a higher degree of homogeneity.

Suggested Citation

  • L H Kahane & N Longley & R Simmons, 2009. "The Effects of Coworker Heterogeneity on Firm-Level Output: Assessing the Impacts of Cultural and Language Diversity in the National Hockey League," Working Papers 599378, Lancaster University Management School, Economics Department.
  • Handle: RePEc:lan:wpaper:599378

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Stefan Szymanski, 2000. "A Market Test for Discrimination in the English Professional Soccer Leagues," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 108(3), pages 590-603, June.
    2. Gianmarco I.P. Ottaviano & Giovanni Peri, 2016. "The economic value of cultural diversity: evidence from US cities," World Scientific Book Chapters,in: The Economics of International Migration, chapter 7, pages 229-264 World Scientific Publishing Co. Pte. Ltd..
    3. Zak, Thomas A & Huang, Cliff J & Siegfried, John J, 1979. "Production Efficiency: The Case of Professional Basketball," The Journal of Business, University of Chicago Press, vol. 52(3), pages 379-392, July.
    4. Dawson, Peter & Dobson, Stephen & Gerrard, Bill, 2000. "Estimating Coaching Efficiency in Professional Team Sports: Evidence from English Association Football," Scottish Journal of Political Economy, Scottish Economic Society, vol. 47(4), pages 399-421, September.
    5. repec:ebl:ecbull:v:1:y:2003:i:2:p:1-10 is not listed on IDEAS
    6. Leo Kahane, 2005. "Production Efficiency and Discriminatory Hiring Practices in the National Hockey League: A Stochastic Frontier Approach," Review of Industrial Organization, Springer;The Industrial Organization Society, vol. 27(1), pages 47-71, August.
    7. Frederick Wiseman & Sangit Chatterjee, 2003. "Team payroll and team performance in major league baseball: 1985-2002," Economics Bulletin, AccessEcon, vol. 1(2), pages 1-10.
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    Cited by:

    1. Frédéric Docquier & Riccardo Turati & Jérôme Valette & Chrysovalantis Vasilakis, 2016. "Multiculturalism and Growth: Skill-Specific Evidence from the Post-World War II Period," Discussion Papers (IRES - Institut de Recherches Economiques et Sociales) 2016028, Université catholique de Louvain, Institut de Recherches Economiques et Sociales (IRES).
    2. Alberto Alesina & Johann Harnoss & Hillel Rapoport, 2016. "Birthplace diversity and economic prosperity," Journal of Economic Growth, Springer, vol. 21(2), pages 101-138, June.
    3. Bernd Frick & Anica Rose, 2017. "Over the top: Team composition and performance in Himalayan expeditions," Working Papers Dissertations 24, Paderborn University, Faculty of Business Administration and Economics.
    4. Papps, Kerry L. & Bryson, Alex & Gomez, Rafael, 2011. "Heterogeneous worker ability and team-based production: Evidence from major league baseball, 1920-2009," Labour Economics, Elsevier, vol. 18(3), pages 310-319, June.
    5. Böheim, René & Horvath, Thomas & Mayr, Karin, 2014. "Birthplace Diversity and Productivity Spill-overs in Firms," IZA Discussion Papers 8463, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
    6. Trax, Michaela & Brunow, Stephan & Suedekum, Jens, 2015. "Cultural diversity and plant-level productivity," Regional Science and Urban Economics, Elsevier, vol. 53(C), pages 85-96.
    7. Hoogendoorn, Sander M. & van Praag, Mirjam C., 2012. "Ethnic Diversity and Team Performance: A Field Experiment," IZA Discussion Papers 6731, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
    8. Ottaviano, Gianmarco I. P. & Peri, Giovanni & Wright, Greg C., 2015. "Immigration, trade and productivity in services:evidence from UK firms," LSE Research Online Documents on Economics 62583, London School of Economics and Political Science, LSE Library.
    9. Berger, Allen N. & Kick, Thomas & Schaeck, Klaus, 2014. "Executive board composition and bank risk taking," Journal of Corporate Finance, Elsevier, vol. 28(C), pages 48-65.
    10. Swarnodeep Homroy & Kwok Tong Soo, 2014. "The impact of diversity on group and individual performance," Working Papers 65528509, Lancaster University Management School, Economics Department.
    11. Colin Green & Swarnodeep Homroy, 2015. "Female directors, key committees, and firm performance," Working Papers 95922258, Lancaster University Management School, Economics Department.
    12. Gianmarco I. P. Ottaviano, 2014. "Immigration, Diversity and the Labour Market Outcomes of Native Workers: Some Recent Developments," CEP Discussion Papers dp1292, Centre for Economic Performance, LSE.
    13. Peter A. Groothuis & James Richard Hill, 2015. "Exit Discrimination in the NBA. Is there a Bias against Foreigners?," Working Papers 15-10, Department of Economics, Appalachian State University, revised 2015.
    14. Gianluca Orefice & Gianluca Santoni, 2017. "Exporting Creative and Cultural Products: Birthplace Diversity Matters!," Working Papers 2017-17, CEPII research center.
    15. Craig A. Depken & Johnny Ducking & Peter A. Groothuis, 2017. "Career duration in the NHL: pushing and pulling on Europeans?," Applied Economics, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 49(59), pages 5923-5934, December.
    16. repec:eee:eecrev:v:102:y:2018:i:c:p:19-38 is not listed on IDEAS
    17. James Richard Hill & Peter A. Groothuis, 2016. "Is There a Wage Premium or Wage Discrimination For Foreign-Born Players in the NBA?," Working Papers 16-11, Department of Economics, Appalachian State University.
    18. Dennis Coates & Sara Azmoudeh Fard, 2011. "Returns to handedness in professional hockey," Working Papers 1121, International Association of Sports Economists;North American Association of Sports Economists.
    19. repec:bla:indres:v:56:y:2017:i:4:p:555-604 is not listed on IDEAS
    20. Rosendahl Huber, Laura & Sloof, Randolph & van Praag, Mirjam C., 2014. "Jacks-of-All-Trades? The Effect of Balanced Skills on Team Performance," IZA Discussion Papers 8237, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
    21. repec:bla:ecinqu:v:55:y:2017:i:2:p:1091-1103 is not listed on IDEAS
    22. repec:bla:coecpo:v:36:y:2018:i:1:p:192-199 is not listed on IDEAS

    More about this item


    Coworker; Heterogeneity; Diversity; National Hockey League; Europeans;

    JEL classification:

    • J24 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demand and Supply of Labor - - - Human Capital; Skills; Occupational Choice; Labor Productivity
    • L83 - Industrial Organization - - Industry Studies: Services - - - Sports; Gambling; Restaurants; Recreation; Tourism


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