Date of Award

Spring 5-2019

Author's School

Olin Business School

Author's Program

OTHER (include in Notes to Administrator)

Degree Name

Bachelor of Science in Business Administration (BSBA)




Group formation is an integral component of the contemporary higher education experience. This begs the question of how students form groups: which aspects are most important, and what determines people’s preferences for group members. Specific incidents have indicated that some students, particularly international students, are not sure if they will be welcome when asking to join a class group. In this study, undergraduate business students were surveyed to understand their preferences when selecting group members, using conjoint analysis to analyze the results. Overall, (i) results show that the most important factor for people’s preferences is if a potential group member shows good behavior in class. There were five clusters of students created through conjoint analysis, each with varying preferences dependent on their makeup. The most significant takeaways are that (ii) groups of international students prefer to work with students with international accents, (iii) groups of American students prefer to work with students with American accents, but there are also groups without a single demographically identifying feature that also preferred students with American accents, and (iv) groups of males value knowing their group members as much as they value good behavior exhibited by the potential group members. Additionally, the results show that (v) despite people’s biases towards wanting to work with Americans, non-American students can overcome the bias with other factors such as exhibiting good behavior or knowing the potential group members. Professors and students should also be aware of this bias to ensure international students do not struggle in group projects as well as consider helping international students integrate better with the American community at universities.


Bernardo S. Silveira, William Bottom

Additional Advisors

Tat Chan, Ohad Kadan