Learning-by-Moving: Can Reconfiguring Spatial Proximity Between Organizational Members Promote Individual-level Exploration?
46 Pages Posted: 8 Jan 2018 Last revised: 8 Nov 2018
Date Written: November 6, 2018
This research proposes that individual-level exploration can be promoted by reconfiguring the spatial proximity between organizational members’ workspaces. To test this idea, I exploit a natural experiment in an e-commerce company where the spatial distances between organizational members’ workspaces were reconfigured. Consistent with the theory I develop on learning, the results suggest that increasing the spatial proximity between workspaces of individuals who were previously physically separated leads to more individual-level exploration. This relationship is driven by individuals who had high prior organizational experience and those who did not have cohort ties with previously separated peers. Finally, the workspace reconfiguration leads to higher financial performance. Overall, this study highlights the importance of an under-examined organization design element—spatial design—and its implications for organizational learning, individual-level exploration, and firm performance.
Keywords: Organization design; organizational learning; organizational spatial design; spatial proximity; seating arrangements; individual-level exploration; microfoundations of strategy; natural experiment
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