Can Reconfiguring Spatial Proximity between Organizational Members Promote Individual-Level Exploration? Evidence from a Natural Experiment
45 Pages Posted: 8 Jan 2018
Date Written: December 30, 2017
The 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 unique natural experiment in an e-commerce company where the spatial distances between organizational members’ workspaces were reconfigured because of the relocation of its headquarters. Results indicate that increasing the spatial proximity between workspaces of individuals who were previously physically separated leads to more individual-level exploration. This relationship was positively moderated by individuals’ prior organizational experience and negatively moderated by their previous social ties. Finally, this change in spatial proximity led to higher organizational performance. Overall, this study highlights the importance of an under-examined organization design element — spatial design — and its implications for individual-level exploration and firm performance.
Keywords: Organization design; organizational learning; spatial proximity; individual-level exploration; microfoundations of strategy; natural experiment
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