Job market paper: Identifying the Value of Teamwork: Application to Professional Tennis

Teamwork is a major concern for any organization, but it is hard to distinguish a good team player from someone with high general skills. This paper provides a novel identification approach to measure a worker’s value-added from teamwork net of general ability. First I identify a given worker’s total value-added to a team by difference-in-differences, observing workers who switch teams. Define the portion of total value-added unexplained by solitary productivity as team skill: a worker’s comparative advantage at teamwork. Clean identification requires observation of a worker’s solitary productivity outside the context of any team. Professional men’s tennis provides a useful setting to compare solo work (singles) to teamwork (doubles). I find that nearly 60% of across-team output variation is explained by team skill. This is robust to a variety of specifications, including nonlinearities in player inputs. Players match positively assortatively by both own skill and team skill dimensions. This implies higher skilled players receive returns to skills by virtue of being matched to higher skilled partners; these are in the order of half the magnitude of the direct returns.

job market paper