Resource title

Photocopiers and water-coolers: the affordances of informal interaction (RV of 2004/02/OB)

Resource image

image for OpenScout resource :: Photocopiers and water-coolers: the affordances of informal interaction (RV of 2004/02/OB)

Resource description

It is a well-documented finding that the physical environment of an organizational setting can have a substantial impact on the patterns of informal interaction and communication that occur there. However, conflicting empirical results of previous studies, when taken together, show that there is no simple, deterministic relationship between physical characteristics of an environment-such as distance, open architecture, or the presence of shared resources-and patterns of informal interaction that occur in that environment. Physical characteristics matter, but social characteristics matter too. We argue that to understand the relationship between environments and informal interactions, i.e., the ecology of informal interactions, we need to take seriously the idea that the physical artifacts and the social constructions of organizations are mutually constitutive. The concept of affordances, drawn from ecological psychology, provides a means of considering how the physical and social characteristics of an environment jointly influence the perceptions and behaviors of actors. We develop a theory of the environmental affordances of informal interaction: proximity, privacy, and legitimacy. We illustrate and elaborate the theory using data from field studies conducted in and around photocopier rooms in three organizations.

Resource author

Resource publisher

Resource publish date

Resource language

en

Resource content type

application/pdf

Resource resource URL

http://flora.insead.edu/fichiersti_wp/inseadwp2005/2005-46.pdf

Resource license

Copyright INSEAD. All rights reserved