A Field Experiment on Leadership and Team Performance in Non-routine Analytical Team Tasks

Florian Englmaier (University of Munich)
Stefan Grimm (Allianz Behavioral Economics Unit)
Dominik Grothe (University of Munich)
David Schindler (Tilburg University)
Simeon Schudy (University of Munich)

Abstract: Leadership has been considered a promising tool to improve team performance in complex tasks, but leaders and leadership styles are chosen endogenously in many team work environments. To uncover the causal effect of such endogenous leadership choices, we conduct a field experiment with more than 280 teams (1250 individuals) performing a complex non-routine task. We randomly encourage teams to decide on a leader and find that teams in treatment are significantly more likely to finish the task. Leadership appears to influence team organization but does not reduce teams' willingness to "explore" original solutions.