Network Nudge: The Effect of Piqued Curiosity on Boundary-spanning Networking in Organizations



Integrating the differentiated knowledge, skills, and experiences of its members is critical to the effective functioning of an organization. For this reason, a principle focus of organizational scholarship is the interactions spanning people, groups, role sets, and organizational units. Decades of research have substantiated not only the range of important outcomes deriving from, but also the formidable barriers to initiating and maintaining, the interactions that foster integration across formal organizational, informal social, and demographic boundaries. And while our knowledge of organizational (e.g., propinquity) and relational (e.g. homophily) obstacles is extensive, our understanding of psychological barriers faced by individuals when contemplating the prospect of engaging in boundary-spanning networking is less advanced. We argue that a chief impediment to boundary-spanning networking in organizations is the lack of motivation on the part of individuals to cultivate such interactions. We further theorize that curiosity heightens individuals’ motivation to network across boundaries in organizations, due to the drive to learn and the desire to discover novel ideas, solutions, and opportunities. Moreover, we propose that the state of curiosity is piqued by cues in the organizational environment. To test our claims, we designed and conducted a randomized-control-trial field experiment involving over 2,200 middle-managers in a North American financial services organization. To further substantiate the operative causal mechanisms, we designed and conducted two additional field experiments involving over 600 working professionals. The results from the three experiments provide strong support for our claims and illuminate the psychological foundations to boundary-spanning networking in organizations. Based on our findings, we call for a new direction in network research that investigates how curiosity affects networking and shapes the composition and evolution of network structure in organizations.

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Meeting ID: 917 8662 4023

Passcode: 322621