Social Attachment to Place and Psychic Costs of Geographic Mobility: How Distance from Hometown and Vacation Flexibility Affect Job Performance

61 Pages Posted: 13 Jan 2020

See all articles by Prithwiraj Choudhury

Prithwiraj Choudhury

Harvard University - Business School (HBS)

Ohchan Kwon

Harvard University - Technology & Operations Management Unit; Harvard University

Date Written: 2019

Abstract

Using a natural experiment and field interviews, this paper studies how social attachment to place imposes psychic costs on workers who experience geographic mobility. This is especially salient when workers are assigned to locations far from their hometown, which may subject them to increased psychic costs related to social attachment to their hometown. Based on semi-structured field interviews conducted with early career workers at an Indian technology firm, we propose that a key mechanism, “vacation flexibility”—that is, the flexibility to take vacation and travel back home when it matters the most—is relevant to the relation between distance from hometown and worker performance. By exploiting the Indian technology firm’s policy of randomly assigning entry-level employees to eight widely scattered locations, we are able to address selection concerns and validate that distance from hometown is negatively related to worker performance under conditions of lesser vacation flexibility compared to when the worker has more vacation flexibility. To offer evidence around the key mechanism of interest, we use subsample analyses and micro-data on leave taken by workers during the major Indian festival of Diwali. Our findings inform literatures on geographic mobility and geography of work, social attachment to place, workplace flexibility, hiring, migration, and early career experiences.

Keywords: distance from hometown, social attachment to place, psychic costs, worker performance, natural experiment

Suggested Citation

Choudhury, Prithwiraj and Kwon, Ohchan and Kwon, Ohchan, Social Attachment to Place and Psychic Costs of Geographic Mobility: How Distance from Hometown and Vacation Flexibility Affect Job Performance (2019). Harvard Business School Technology & Operations Mgt. Unit Working Paper No. 19-010, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3517511 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.3517511

Prithwiraj Choudhury (Contact Author)

Harvard University - Business School (HBS) ( email )

Soldiers Field Road
Morgan 270C
Boston, MA 02163
United States

Ohchan Kwon

Harvard University - Technology & Operations Management Unit ( email )

Boston, MA 02163
United States

Harvard University ( email )

1875 Cambridge Street
Cambridge, MA 02138
United States

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