Mark and I have been helping clients with knowledge strategies lately and as we write them up we would remember knowledge management ‘facts’ like, “knowledge transfer significantly degrades when people are separated by more that 18 feet.” You know how it is, you remember something like this but where is the original research.
So I went looking and found the following:
“When employees work at locations more than approximately 30 meters apart, they have a much-reduced daily contact and less frequent informal communication. Physical separation from others in daily life drastically reduces the likelihood of voluntary work collaboration.” (Kiesler and Cummings 2004: 59)
The authors quote the following references in relation to these statements about proximity and collaboration.
Allen, T. J. (1977). Managing the Flow of Technology. Cambridge, MIT Press.
Kiesler, S. and J. N. Cummings (2002). What Do We Know about Proximity and Distance in Work Groups? A Legacy of Research. Distributed Work. P. J. Hinds and S. Kiesler. Cambridge, Massachusetts, The MIT Press.
Kraut, R. E., S. R. Fussell, et al. (2002). Understanding effects of proximity on collaboration: Implications for technologies to support remote collaborative work. Distributed Work. P. J. Hinds and S. Kiesler. Cambridge, Massachusetts, The MIT Press.
Kraut, R. E. and L. A. Streeter (1995). “Coordination in software development.” Communications of the ACM 38: 69-81.
Are you aware of any other research that support or contradict this idea of “out of sight, out of mind?”
About Shawn Callahan
Shawn, author of Putting Stories to Work, is one of the world's leading business storytelling consultants. He helps executive teams find and tell the story of their strategy. When he is not working on strategy communication, Shawn is helping leaders find and tell business stories to engage, to influence and to inspire. Shawn works with Global 1000 companies including Shell, IBM, SAP, Bayer, Microsoft & Danone. Connect with Shawn on: