hero working papers

Culture and team production

Number: 587
Year: 2016
Author(s): Vicente Calabuig, Gonzalo Olcina, and Fabrizio Panebianco
This paper addresses theoretically the question whether culture has an effect on economic performance in team production, and which would be the optimal team culture. The members of the team are guided both by economic incentives and by personal norms, weighed according to their prevailing level of materialism. We assume that personal norms evolve following a dynamics driven by a combination of psychological mechanisms such as consistency and conformism. The different vectors of materialism, consistency and conformity shared by the group result in a continuum of cultures with different combinations of individualism and collectivism. Our main results show how team culture turns out to be a fundamental determinant for group performance. When income distribution is not completely egalitarian or the members of the team display heterogeneous levels of skills, culture matters in the sense that there exists an optimal culture that maximizes team production and its characteristics depend on the specific distributions of income and skills. A higher average productivity or a more inegalitarian dispersion of remunerations requires a more collectivist culture. And a higher dispersion of individual productivities requires a more individualist culture.