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The Rise of Research Teams: Benefits and Costs in Economics

Benjamin Jones

Journal of Economic Perspectives, 2021, vol. 35, issue 2, 191-216

Abstract: Economics research is increasingly performed in teams, and team-authored work has a large and increasing impact advantage. This article considers the benefits and costs of this "rise of teams." Among its benefits, teamwork allows individuals to aggregate knowledge in productive and novel ways. For example, as knowledge accumulates over time, individuals become narrower in their expertise, and teamwork is a natural organizational approach to aggregating expertise and maintaining one's reach. But teamwork also brings costs. For example, teamwork divides and obscures credit, which is central to the reward system of science. By clouding credit assignment, teamwork can undermine individual career progression and exacerbate issues of bias. In addressing the rise of teamwork, this paper further considers institutional innovations, especially those inspired by the hard sciences, that can help limit the costs teamwork imposes while realizing the benefits.

JEL-codes: D61 M54 O31 (search for similar items in EconPapers)
Date: 2021
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DOI: 10.1257/jep.35.2.191

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