Sociometric Badges: A New Tool for I.S. Research
60 Pages Posted: 22 Mar 2011
Date Written: March 17, 2011
Researchers have recently been able to understand organizations at an unprecedented level of detail using new digital records and electronic communication data. However, while digital communication is important in the modern workplace, face-to-face interaction still represents a large and important share of organizational communication, information exchange, socialization and informal coordination. Unfortunately, few techniques exist to collect face-to-face communication data at the same level of granularity as electronic communication. In this essay, we introduce and discuss a new set of research tools and methodologies collectively known as Sociometric Badges – wearable sensing devices designed to collect data on face-to-face communication and interaction in real time. To highlight opportunities and challenges for IS research, we discuss a) the design and function of the technology, b) potential opportunities for IS and management research, c) key trade-offs, challenges and research design choices, and d) important limitations of the tools and techniques. We believe this set of technologies, which will soon be publicly available for research purposes at low cost, could portend a dramatic improvement in our understanding of human behavior at unprecedented levels of granularity and therefore enable IS researchers to explore new research questions and more accurately address existing lines of research.
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