Teams, Teamwork and Absence*


  • *

    Thanks are expressed to two anonymous referees, to Volbert Alexander for providing a supportive environment at the University of Giessen, where much of the original work on this paper was conducted, to seminar participants at the University of Dortmund, UWM and the WHU in Vallendar, and to session participants at the 2003 EALE Conference, the 2003 VfS Conference and the 2003 GEABA Conference. We acknowledge financial support from the Center for Research on International Economics and the MHRLR International Scholar Program at UWM.


We argue that firms with interdependent worker productivity, team production, have a higher cost of absence and, as a consequence, spend additional resources on monitoring absence. As a result, firms with team production should have lower absence rates. We estimate the determinants of absence for blue-collar workers using a sample of German manufacturing establishments. Workplace teams are used as a proxy for team production. The estimates reveal that firms with teams have lower absence rates, as do smaller establishments. The size effect, however, is unique to establishments with teams, which fits prior theoretical work that has not been previously tested.