DP17618 Cultural Homophily and Collaboration in Superstar Teams
One may reasonably think that cultural preferences affect collaboration in multinational teams in general, but not in superstar teams of professionals at the top of their industry. We reject this hypothesis by creating and analyzing an exhaustive dataset recording all 10.7 million passes by 7 thousand professional European football players from 138 countries fielded by all 154 teams competing in the top 5 men leagues over 8 sporting seasons, together with full information on players' and teams' characteristics. We use a discrete choice model of players' passing behavior as a baseline to separately identify collaboration due to cultural preferences (`choice homophily') from collaboration due to opportunities (`induced homophily'). The outcome we focus on is the `pass rate', defined as the count of passes from a passer to a receiver relative the passer's total passes when both players are fielded together in a half-season. We find strong evidence of choice homophily. Relative to the baseline, player pairs of same culture have a 2.42 percent higher pass rate due to choice, compared with a 6.16 percent higher pass rate due to both choice and opportunity. This shows that choice homophily based on culture is pervasive and persistent even in teams of very high skill individuals with clear common objectives and aligned incentives, who are involved in interactive tasks that are well defined, readily monitored and not particularly language intensive.