Heterogeneous Complementarity and Team Design: The Case of Real Estate Agents

Prof. Junhong CHU
The University of Hong Kong

Date: 26 March 2024 (Tuesday)
Time: 10:30 am to 12:00 pm
Venue: E22-G015
Host: Prof. Kao SI, Assistant Professor in Marketing


Workers often possess characteristics, such as soft skills, that are important for teamwork but unobserved by managers. In this paper, we develop a teamwork model based on the econometric teamwork framework in Bonhomme (2021) and stochastic blockmodels for binary outcomes (e.g., Bickel et al., 2013), when only team-level outputs are observed. Our model does not impose any functional form restrictions on the complementarity between workers with unobserved characteristics, which are modeled as latent types. We apply our model to a data set from a leading Chinese real estate company; the data contain the complete history of team assignments, team performances, and property details. We find that complementarities between different agent types are heterogeneous and cannot be captured by commonly used production functions. More specifically, workers with intermediate solo performance complement all other workers the most, while those with the best solo performance are not the best team players. Our results suggest that firms can boost productivity by redesigning teams, without incurring additional hiring costs. Leveraging our complementarity estimates, our counterfactual experiments demonstrate that reorganizing teams could enhance overall team output by up to 26.6%.



Prof. Junhong CHU is a professor of marketing at the HKU Business School, the University of Hong Kong. She joined HKU in August 2022. Prior to that, she was a tenured associate professor and Dean’s Chair professor at the NUS Business School. Dr. Chu is an empirical modeler and works on big data, doing quantitative research in structural new empirical industrial organization (NEIO). Her research interests include platform markets and the sharing economy, e-commerce, social media, P2P market, retail competition, and networking. Her research has appeared in top marketing and management journals including Marketing Science, Management Science, Journal of Marketing Research, and Journal of Marketing, as well as in general science journals such as Proceedings of the National Academy of Science (PNAS) and Nature Human Behaviour. She is on the editorial board of Marketing Science and Journal of Interactive Marketing. She was a 2011 MSI (Marketing Science Institute) Young Scholar and won NUS Business School Outstanding Researcher awards in 2008 and 2011.

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