Zone Overlap and Collaboration in Academic Biomedicine: A Functional Proximity Approach to Socio-Spatial Network Analysis
37 Pages Posted: 12 Jan 2013
Date Written: January 1, 2013
Spatial layouts can have significant influences on the formation and outcomes of social relationships. Physical proximity is thus essential to understanding the elemental building blocks of social networks, dyads. Situating relationships in space is instrumental to formulating better models of collaboration and information-sharing in organizations and more robust theories of networks and their effects. We propose, develop, and test a concept, the functional zone, which effectively captures Festinger et al’s (1950) classic description of ‘functional distance’ as pertains to social interactions. We operationalize our functional zone concept with measures of path and areal zone overlap. At two biomedical research buildings with different layouts (compact versus linear), regression analyses of collaboration rates show that increasing path overlap increases collaboration in both buildings. In contrast more traditional distance measures only influence collaboration in the more linear building. The functional zone concept improves our ability to understand relationships and their attendant organizational outcomes.
Keywords: physical proximity, social networks, scientific collaboration, functional distance, relationship formation
JEL Classification: O32, I23, C81
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