“Homogeneous teams and productivity – Experimental Evidence from Kenya”

Next Wednesday, March 11th, at 2pm, the NOVAFRICA Center welcomes Vincent Pons, from Harvard University to present his work about team composition, ethnic homogeneity and team productivity.

Benjamin Marx, Vincent Pons and Tavneet Suri.

We present findings from a randomized experiment manipulating the composition of teams in a Kenyan organization. Staff members in a canvassing exercise were randomly assigned a teammate and a manager for the experiment, inducing exogenous variation in the demographic composition of each team. We find that ethnic homogeneity between teammates increases team productivity, while homogeneity between the manager and one teammate has the opposite effect. The productivity effect of ethnic homogeneity is more than twice the size of the effect of homogeneity by gender or age. Ethnically homogeneous teams also perform better at relatively more difficult tasks. Qualitative results from a survey of the staff suggest that social norms within groups, rather than heterogeneous preferences or communication technology, are driving the effects of ethnicity on team productivity.