Teams: Heterogeneity, Sorting, and Complementarity

46 Pages Posted: 4 Feb 2021

Date Written: February 3, 2021


How much do individuals contribute to team output? I propose an econometric framework to quantify individual contributions when only the output of their teams is observed. The identification strategy relies on following individuals who work in different teams over time. I consider two production technologies. For a production function that is additive in worker inputs, I propose a regression estimator and show how to obtain unbiased estimates of variance components that measure the contributions of heterogeneity and sorting. To estimate nonlinear models with complementarity, I propose a mixture approach under the assumption that individual types are discrete, and rely on a mean-field variational approximation for estimation. To illustrate the methods, I estimate the impact of economists on their research output, and the contributions of inventors to the quality of their patents.

Keywords: Team production, networks, unobserved heterogeneity, sorting, comple-mentarity

JEL Classification: C13, J31

Suggested Citation

Bonhomme, Stéphane, Teams: Heterogeneity, Sorting, and Complementarity (February 3, 2021). University of Chicago, Becker Friedman Institute for Economics Working Paper No. 2021-15, Available at SSRN: or

Stéphane Bonhomme (Contact Author)

University of Chicago

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