Team Players: How Social Skills Improve Group Performance

50 Pages Posted: 5 May 2020

See all articles by Ben Weidmann

Ben Weidmann

Harvard University

David Deming

Harvard University; Harvard University - Harvard Kennedy School (HKS)

Date Written: May 2020

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.

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Suggested Citation

Weidmann, Ben and Deming, David, Team Players: How Social Skills Improve Group Performance (May 2020). NBER Working Paper No. w27071, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3592149

Ben Weidmann (Contact Author)

Harvard University

David Deming

Harvard University ( email )

Harvard University - Harvard Kennedy School (HKS) ( email )

79 John F. Kennedy Street
Cambridge, MA 02138
United States

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