Learning-by-Moving: Can Reconfiguring Spatial Proximity Between Organizational Members Promote Individual-level Exploration?

43 Pages Posted: 8 Jan 2018 Last revised: 23 Jan 2019

See all articles by Sunkee Lee

Sunkee Lee

Carnegie Mellon University

Date Written: January 20, 2019

Abstract

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, results suggest that individuals whose workspaces were moved closer to those of previously separated peers engaged in more individual-level exploration. This pattern was stronger for individuals who had high prior organizational experience and those who did not have ties with previously separated peers. Finally, I found that the relocated individuals also achieved 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

Suggested Citation

Lee, Sunkee, Learning-by-Moving: Can Reconfiguring Spatial Proximity Between Organizational Members Promote Individual-level Exploration? (January 20, 2019). Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3094639 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.3094639

Sunkee Lee (Contact Author)

Carnegie Mellon University ( email )

5000 Forbes Avenue
Pittsburgh, PA 15213-3890
United States

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