Which Two Heads Are Better Than One?: Uncovering the Positive Effects of Diversity in Creative Teams
40 Pages Posted: 7 Dec 2018
Date Written: November 12, 2018
Creative teams drive the idea-economy, yet the determinants of a team's ability to create new ideas are not universally agreed upon. Group-level diversity has gained the most traction as an explanation, where a team's performance is usually attributed to diversity over observed characteristics such as race, gender, or functional expertise. Most agree that these characteristics are not especially important, but rather serve as an indicator of diversity in experiences, which is the actual mechanism that improves team ability. We formalize and test if experientially diverse groups produce more ideas. Because group assignment to projects in the field is rarely exogenous, and experiential diversity is not measured in observational data, we use a laboratory experiment to test our proposal. We find that experientially diverse teams create more ideas and also find no additional effect for gender, racial, socioeconomic, or personality diversity. Our general finding for why diversity may be important indicates that if a correlation exists between characteristic diversity and experiential diversity, the characteristically diverse team will have a higher ability. This generalization can be used to unify divergent results from prior studies and can help explain how dissimilar corporate diversity policies could be equally successful.
Keywords: Diversity, Creativity, Group Production, Experimental Economics
JEL Classification: C92, J24, M50, O30, O31, O34
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