SSE/EFI Working Paper Series in Business Administration
Geographical dispersion and spontaneous interaction in an R&D environment
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
Keywords: Communication; Telecommuting; R&D; Social interaction; (follow links to similar papers)
16 pages, April 3, 2002
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