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Better by design? Collaboration and performance in the board-game industry

Nicola Cortinovis and Frank van der Wouden

No 2104, Papers in Evolutionary Economic Geography (PEEG) from Utrecht University, Department of Human Geography and Spatial Planning, Group Economic Geography

Abstract: Research on team-work has mostly focused on scientific, technological and corporate domains, in which team-work is organized in systematic, coordinated and formal processes. However, it is unclear to what extent these findings apply to fields in which team-work is less institutionalized, unregulated and occurs outside corporate and academic boundaries. In this paper we study team-work among board-game designers to bring new insights on the effect of team-composition on performance. The board-game industry offers important advantages to complement the extant literature, because team-work during game designing is a rather informal, unstructured process that relies on creativity, imagination and out-of-the-box thinking. We apply econometric and machine learning tools to a novel detail-rich database with information on 10,000 quality-rated games and their 5,167 designers. We examine whether collaborating with someone with higher past ratings increases the quality of output of the collaborated board-game. In addition, we explore three well-documented characteristics that may also impact the quality of output through collaboration. Our findings indicate that the quality of the output of a board-game designer significantly increases when (1) collaborating with a better performing designer, (2) having little or a lot of overlap in terms of expertise with the collaborator and (3) being geographical proximate to the collaborator. These findings suggest that the relation between team-work and performance in the board-game industry is different than in industries and sectors in which collaboration is coordinated in formal settings. We connect our results to other debates in the innovation literature and propose policy and managerial implications.

Date: 2021-01, Revised 2021-01
New Economics Papers: this item is included in nep-cmp and nep-spo
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