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The Economic Research Institute, Stockholm School of Economics SSE/EFI Working Paper Series in Business Administration

No 2002:2:
Geographical dispersion and spontaneous interaction in an R&D environment

Jon Rognes ()

Abstract: This study investigates how spontaneous interaction in an R&D environment is affected by temporary absence form the work site. Previous studies has shown the central importance of spontaneous interaction in R&D activities, but not how this is linked to the amount of co-presence. By using work diaries to collect data on time spent on spontaneous interaction, two groups are studied, one working form a remote location for part of the time, and one working at the central location all the time. The assumption is that spontaneous interaction is either constant during time of co-presence, or it is saved until time of presence. In the later case this would result in more spontaneous interaction when present. The results from the study show that the spontaneous interaction is directly linked to the amount of time the person is present, and that no compensation is made for the time of absence. Spontaneous interaction takes place when opportunities occur, and lost opportunities are not compensated for by more spontaneous interaction when opportunity is given later. This has implications for geographical dispersion in environments where spontaneous interaction is vital such as in R&D settings and in managerial roles. Part-time geographical separation will decrease the amount of spontaneous interaction in the group, which is likely to influence the outcome.

Keywords: Communication; Telecommuting; R&D; Social interaction; (follow links to similar papers)

16 pages, April 3, 2002

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