Face-to-Face Communication in Organisations
62 Pages Posted: 20 Mar 2017 Last revised: 25 Mar 2018
Date Written: October 2, 2017
This paper studies how the ability to communicate in person (in addition to electronically) affects team productivity in organisations. Understanding this relation empirically has proven elusive due to measurement and endogeneity issues. We take advantage of a unique natural experiment in an organisation where workers must transmit complex electronic information to their teammates. For exogenous reasons, workers can sometimes also communicate face-to-face. We show that productivity is higher when face-to-face communication is possible, and that this effect is stronger for urgent and complex tasks, for homogeneous teams, and during high pressure conditions. We highlight the opportunity costs of face-to-face communication and their dependence on organisational slack.
Keywords: Teamwork, Face-to-Face Communication, Distance, Organisations
JEL Classification: D23, M11
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