The Collaboration Credit Premium and the Case of Detrimental Collaborations: Evidence from Economics

Co-author(s): Florenta Teodoridis (USC), Michael Bikard (LBS)

Under review in Administrative Science Quarterly, 2019

Download the PDF version of the draft here

Abstract: We explore the relationship between collaboration and credit allocation in creative work. A large literature has examined how co-workers split credit for joint work, but this literature has generally viewed credit allocation among collaborators as a zero-sum game. In contrast, we posit that under specific conditions, one should expect credit for joint work to be split in a way that sums up to more than 100%—a phenomenon which we refer to as the "collaboration credit premium." Under these conditions, we argue that individuals might have an incentive to collaborate even when collaboration decreases the quality of their work. To test these propositions, we examine the collaboration strategies of economists in academia. We take advantage of the norm of alphabetical name ordering on scientific articles published in economics journals. This norm means that economists whose family name begins with a letter from the beginning of the alphabet receive systematically more credit for collaborative work than economists whose family name begins with a letter from the end of the alphabet. We further use this systematic difference in credit allocation to show that collaboration can have a net negative impact on the quality of the work completed. Overall, our results emphasize that the spread of collaboration in creative work raises major challenges with the allocation of credit.

Keywords: Credit Premium, Collaboration, Detrimental Collaborations, Credit Allocation