Myself and Declan Jordan are currently working on a paper which poses the question, does diversity benefit team performance? Our period of analysis is the 2015/2016 season and we examine clubs from top flight leagues in England, France, Spain, the Netherlands, Germany, Italy, Spain and Portugal. We measure diversity based off of a player’s nationality.
England is found to be the most diverse league in terms of different nationalities, whereas the Netherlands is the least diverse. For the period examined the most diverse teams in our data set are Watford, Roma, Udinese, Inter Milan and Swansea City. The least diverse are Athletic Bilbao, Sassulo, Excelsior, Real Sociedad and Heracles Almelo.
In terms of diversity, Italy and England have the most heterogonous teams with both Watford and Swansea having two of the most diverse teams, with the other three in Italy. It might not be surprising that Athletic Bilbao is one of the least diverse teams, given their history of signing Basque players.
Our preliminary results point to a number of aspects which can explain team performance. Not surprisingly we find that wealthier clubs perform better. However, we find that more diverse teams, on average actually perform worse, along with the interesting note that clubs who sign players from many different teams also on average perform worse. Clubs located closer to the capital city, along with those who employ a more experienced manager perform better in terms of points per game. Although the research is only at an early stage, we find the idea of sourcing players from a variety of different teams as being a negative to be an interesting finding. It may be that teams who have signed players who’ve previously played in the same club may already have a bond built up or a common understanding of how to play with each other, which in turn benefits their current team. We hope to explore these findings more in the coming months.