DP16015 Diversity and Team Performance in a Kenyan Organization

Author(s): Benjamin Marx, Vincent Pons, Tavneet Suri
Publication Date: April 2021
Keyword(s): ethnic diversity, labor management, organizations, team performance
JEL(s): D22, J24, L22, M54, O12
Programme Areas: Labour Economics, Public Economics, Development Economics
Link to this Page: cepr.org/active/publications/discussion_papers/dp.php?dpno=16015

We present the results from a field experiment on team diversity. Individuals working as door-to-door canvassers for a non-profit organization were randomly assigned a teammate, a supervisor, and a list of individuals to canvass. This created random variation within teams in the degree of horizontal diversity (between teammates), vertical diversity (between teammates and their supervisor) and external diversity (between teams and the individuals they canvassed). We observe team-level measures of performance and find that horizontal ethnic diversity decreases performance, while vertical diversity often improves performance, and external diversity has no effect. The data on time use suggests that horizontally homogeneous teams organized tasks in a more efficient way, while vertically homogeneous teams exerted lower effort.