Economists Urge Managers to 'Pack Them In'

Last Updated Jan 7, 2008 2:03 PM EST

Economists Urge Managers to 'Pack Them In'Does where you sit in the office affect anything besides what gossip you hear? The always interesting Marginal Revolution blog, points today to a report that suggests in fact it does. According to the NY Times, the economists looked at Google's in-house prediction market.
to try to find common factors among people with similar opinions -- is it type of job or level within the corporate structure, being friends or sitting close to one another?
According to the report, "Using Prediction Markets to Track Information Flows: Evidence From Google," which was presented Friday at the American Economic Association meeting in New Orleans, the strongest correlation in betting was found among people who sat very close to one another, trumping even friendship or other close social ties.
This is tangible evidence, the authors argue, that information is shared most easily and effectively among office neighbors, even at an Internet company where instant messaging and e-mail are generally preferred to face-to-face discussion.
It is an argument, the authors say, for giving greater importance to "microgeography," or how people interact in the workplace. The finding that information moved fastest among people who were the closest together is also an endorsement of the company's "third rule for managing knowledge workers: Pack Them In," the authors say.
So how's the microgeography of your office? Also, if you're curious, here are the rest of Google's 10 rules for managing knowledge workers.

The American Economics Association, by the way, may not sound like a lively way to spend a weekend, but, if news reports are any indicator, the economists in attendance weren't short of creative, thought-provoking papers. The Times also reports on another paper that argued movie violence may actually reduce real-world violence.

(Image of people packed into train by Kim Scarborough, CC 2.0)

  • Jessica Stillman On Twitter»

    Jessica lives in London where she works as a freelance writer with interests in green business and tech, management, and marketing.