Balázs Kovács

ANET Lab Seminar Series: Balázs Kovács

Balázs Kovács (Yale University): The Effect of Political Heterogeneity and Polarization on Performance

Abstract | Does political discord reduce performance? We tested whether the individual performance of people with politically homogeneous peers differs from that of people with politically heterogeneous peers. To test the causality of peer effects, we used professional golf tournaments on the PGA Tour where golfers are randomly assigned to groups in the first two rounds. We found that playing with politically similar peers led to an average performance improvement of 0.2 strokes per round, which on average resulted in a 5-rank increase before the cut of the tournament. The magnitude of the peer effect of political heterogeneity covaries with the political polarization of society: it increases when polarization is higher and decreases when polarization is lower.

Bio | Professor Kovács studies how socially structured information such as categories, awards, online reviews, and social networks shape audiences’ perceptions and evaluations in creative domains such as music, literature, dining, or technology. His research takes a sociological approach, in which actors, objects, organizations, and markets are located in a relational space, and heterogeneity, positioning, and networks are studied by exploring the locations and movements in this relational space. Professor Kovács typically uses large-scale, “big data” approaches to study these questions, analyzing online reviews and social networks. His research appears in journals such as Administrative Science Quarterly, American Sociological Review, Organization Science, Management Science, Nature Biotechnology, PNAS, Psychological Science, Research Policy, Social Networks, and Strategic Management Journal. Professor Kovács received his PhD from the Graduate School of Business at Stanford University. Prior to joining the Yale School of Management, he was an assistant professor at the University of Lugano, Switzerland.