Spatial and Social Networks in Organizational Innovation

Research on the enabling factors of innovation has focused on either the social component of organizations or on the spatial dimensions involved in the innovation process. But no one has examined the aggregate consequences of the link from spatial layout, to social networks, to innovation. This project enriches our understanding of how innovation works especially in highly innovative organizations by exploring the social dimensions of innovation as they are embedded in a specific spatial milieu. Workspace layout generates spatial boundaries that divide and reunite built space. These boundaries create relations of accessibility and visibility that integrate or segregate behaviors, activities, and people. As built space structures patterns of circulation, copresence, coawareness, and encounter in an organization, these interrelationships become fundamental to the development of social networks, especially those networks critical to the innovation process. This article presents a review of the knowledge bases of social network and spatial layout theories, and reports on a preliminary study of the effects of spatial layout on the formation and maintenance of social network structure and the support of innovation.