High levels of air pollution reduce team innovation


Teams play a key role in tackling complex societal challenges, such as developing vaccines or novel clean energy technologies. Yet, the effect of air pollution on team performance in non-routine problem-solving tasks is not well explored. Here, we document a sizable adverse effect of air pollution on team performance using data from 15,000 live escape games in London, United Kingdom. On high-pollution days, teams take on average 5% more time to solve a sequence of non-routine analytical tasks, which require collaborative skills analogous to those needed in the modern workplace. Negative effects are non-linear and only occur at high levels of air pollution, which are however commonplace in many developing countries. As team efforts predominantly drive innovation, high levels of air pollution may significantly hamper economic development.

Journal of Economic Psychology
Paul Lohmann
Paul Lohmann
Research Associate

My research interests include behavioural environmental economics and field experiments.