Perceived Proximity in Virtual Work: Explaining the Paradox of Far-But-Close
Organization Studies, Vol. 29, No. 7, pp. 979-1002, 2008
26 Pages Posted: 16 Jan 2011
Date Written: 2008
One’s colleagues can be situated in close physical proximity, yet seem quite distant. Conversely, one’s colleagues can be quite far away in objective terms, yet seem quite close. In this paper, we explore this paradoxical phenomenon of feeling close to geographically distant colleagues and propose a model of perceived proximity (a dyadic and asymmetric construct which reflects one person’s perception of how close or how far another person is). The model shows how communication and social identification processes, as well as certain individual and socio-organizational factors, affect feelings of proximity. The aim is to broaden organizational studies’ theoretical understandings of proximity to include the subjective perception of it. By shifting the focus from objective to perceived proximity, we believe that scholars can resolve many conflicting findings regarding dispersed work. By understanding what leads to perceived proximity, we also believe that managers can achieve many of the benefits of collocation without actually having employees work in one place.
Keywords: distance, virtual, distributed work, teams, perceived proximity
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