By Shankar Vedantam
This story examines a February 2014 study by Harvard University economists Richard Freeman and Wei Huang which examined the effect of ethnic diversity on the success of teams that produce scientific research. The study suggests that team diversity plays a big role in success. While scientists disproportionately write papers with those of similar backgrounds, those who break out of that mold by working with diverse partners produce the most influential science. This was true of ethnically diverse as well as geographically diverse teams. The study suggests that diversity of ideas and perspectives is good for science, and this may have implications in other fields as well.
Abstract of the study, Collaborating With People Like Me: Ethnic co-authorship within the US by Richard B. Freeman, Wei Huang, is available at http://www.nber.org/papers/w19905.