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Team Players: How Social Skills Improve Group Performance

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  • Ben Weidmann
  • David J. Deming

Abstract

Most jobs require teamwork. Are some people good team players? In this paper we design and test a new method for identifying individual contributions to group performance. We randomly assign people to multiple teams and predict team performance based on previously assessed individual skills. Some people consistently cause their group to exceed its predicted performance. We call these individuals “team players”. Team players score significantly higher on a well-established measure of social intelligence, but do not differ across a variety of other dimensions, including IQ, personality, education and gender. Social skills – defined as a single latent factor that combines social intelligence scores with the team player effect – improve group performance about as much as IQ. We find suggestive evidence that team players increase effort among teammates.

Suggested Citation

  • Ben Weidmann & David J. Deming, 2020. "Team Players: How Social Skills Improve Group Performance," NBER Working Papers 27071, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  • Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:27071
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    2. Sule Alan & Gozde Corekcioglu & Matthias Sutter, 2021. "Improving Workplace Climate in Large Corporations: A Clustered Randomized Intervention," Discussion Paper Series of the Max Planck Institute for Research on Collective Goods 2021_17, Max Planck Institute for Research on Collective Goods, revised 15 Aug 2022.
    3. Fumagalli, Elena & Rezaei, Sarah & Salomons, Anna, 2022. "OK computer: Worker perceptions of algorithmic recruitment," Research Policy, Elsevier, vol. 51(2).

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