The Effects of Piqued Curiosity on Boundary-Spanning Networking in Organizations

70 Pages Posted: 6 Jan 2024 Last revised: 9 Jan 2024

See all articles by Tiziana Casciaro

Tiziana Casciaro

University of Toronto

Bill McEvily

University of Toronto - Rotman School of Management

Evelyn Zhang

Frankfurt School of Finance and Management; Nanyang Business School, Nanyang Technological University

Date Written: January 3, 2024

Abstract

Despite the demonstrated importance of spanning formal and network boundaries for organizational functioning, organizations routinely struggle to facilitate interactions across boundaries, when and where needed. To address this tension, we introduce a dynamic view of boundary spanning as motivated not just by stable structural arrangements and individual predispositions, but also by temporary situational cues that induce short-lived boundary-spanning networking. We focus on situational cues that highlight a gap between current and desired knowledge, and thus pique curiosity and the drive to learn by engaging with individuals from groups that are not their own and are disconnected from one another. With data from a large-scale randomized controlled trial involving 2,275 middle managers in a major financial services corporation, we corroborate the predicted causal effect of piqued curiosity on boundary-spanning networking. Two additional experiments substantiate the drive to learn as the operative mechanism and establish that piqued curiosity motivates people to network across (versus within) boundaries. The findings document the transient nature of both boundary spanning and curiosity as an impetus for interacting across boundaries, introducing the potential to achieve integration while also enabling an organization to adapt dynamically to changing task environments.

Keywords: Networking, Organizational integration and adaptation, Boundary-spanning, Curiosity

Suggested Citation

Casciaro, Tiziana and McEvily, William J. and Zhang, Evelyn, The Effects of Piqued Curiosity on Boundary-Spanning Networking in Organizations (January 3, 2024). Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=4683100 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.4683100

Tiziana Casciaro

University of Toronto ( email )

105 St George Street
Toronto, Ontario M5S 3G8
Canada

William J. McEvily

University of Toronto - Rotman School of Management ( email )

105 St. George Street
Toronto, Ontario M5S 3E6 M5S1S4
Canada

Evelyn Zhang (Contact Author)

Frankfurt School of Finance and Management ( email )

Adickesallee 32-34
Frankfurt am Main, 60322
Germany

Nanyang Business School, Nanyang Technological University

Singapore, 639798
Singapore

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