Collaboration, Physical Proximity and Serendipitous Encounters: Avoiding collaboration in a collaborative building

Publication by Gemma Louise Irving, Oluremi B. Ayoko & Neal M. Ashkanasy , , ,
| Disclipline

Open This Publication
Abstract in English:

Despite the adoption of collaborative buildings and office spaces to improve collaboration, the expected benefits of spatial interventions often fail to materialize. In a study of an ostensibly ‘collaborative building’, we identified strategies that employees use to avoid collaborating (i.e. ‘focusing on existing collaborations’, ‘reinforcing group boundaries’, ‘enacting legacy policies’ and ‘minimizing social interactions’). These strategies combined to minimize serendipitous encounters, which led to the avoidance of new collaborations. Our findings address a theoretical tension in the literature as to whether proximity facilitates or inhibits collaboration. We also show that, while it is often difficult to facilitate serendipitous encounters in an ostensibly collaborative building, serendipity nonetheless plays a central role in the development of new collaborative partnerships.

Open Access? Yes

Journal Organization Studies
Publication Year 2020
Volume 41

DOI 10.1177/0170840619856913

English | Discipline Management

Leave your comment