Skip to ContentSkip to Navigation

Centre of expertise HRM&OB

Faculty of Economics and Business
Centre of expertise Human Resource Management & Organisational BehaviourBlog
Header image Expertisecentrum

Colloquium: Jonathan Cummings - Duke University, USA

Datum:26 november 2018
Auteur:Secretariaat HRM & OB
Colloquium: Jonathan Cummings - Duke University, USA
Colloquium: Jonathan Cummings - Duke University, USA

Speaker: Jonathon Cummings - Duke University, USA

Date: Tuesday, December 11, 2018

Time: 13:30

Location: 5412.0035

Title: Physical Collocation, Formal Work Relationships, and Work-Related Interactions in Organizations


This presentation focuses on how work-related interactions (‘who interacts with whom about work') are shaped by two key elements of organizations: physical collocation and formal work relationships. Whereas physical collocation captures the extent to which employees are proximate to one another in physical space (e.g., sit next to each other), formal work relationships capture the extent to which employees depend on one another within the organizational structure (e.g., boss-subordinate or members of the same functional unit). Prior research has shown how physical collocation and formal work relationships each positively impact work-related interactions, but less is known about their joint impact. For example, compared to collocated employees who have a formal work relationship, non-collocated employees may experience a relative boost in work-related interactions because of increased awareness, socialization, and opportunity. In addition, prior research has focused on collocation within a dyad, but less is known about the role of third-parties who are also collocated with employees. For example, compared to an employee who is not collocated with her boss, an employee who is collocated with her boss may experience a relative decline in work-related interactions because of concerns about monitoring by her boss. Given that physical collocation is often confounded with formal work relationships in organizations, the research design took advantage of quasi-random variation in the office seating of employees after the relocation of a corporate headquarters to a new building. Survey data on work-related interactions were collected from 143 employees three months prior to the move (when members of the same functional unit sat next to each other) and three months after the move (when employees were randomly assigned to seats within zones of the office, thus members of different functional units sat next to each other). The findings suggest that collocation among employees was generally good for work-related interactions, especially for those employees who did not have formal work relationships. However, the collocation of a boss with an employee was generally bad for work-related interactions with other employees, especially when they did not have a formal work relationship. Implications for the intersection of organization design, micro-geography, and social networks are discussed.

Jonathon Cummings is Professor of Management and Organizations at the Fuqua School of Business, Duke University. After completing his dissertation and post-doc at Carnegie Mellon University, he spent three years at the MIT Sloan School of Management as an Assistant Professor, where he received an NSF Early Career Award for his research on innovation in geographically dispersed teams and networks. His subsequent research has focused on virtual teams in corporations as well as collaboration in science, and his publications have appeared in outlets across a number of fields, including Organizational Behavior (e.g., Management Science, Academy of Management Journal, Academy of Management Review), Information Systems (e.g., MIS Quarterly, Information Systems Research), Human-Computer Interaction (e.g., CHI, CSCW, CACM), Science Policy (e.g., Social Studies of Science, Research Policy), and Psychology (e.g., Psychological Science, Journal of Applied Psychology).

Tags: Colloquium