The physical settings and informal interaction in workplaces : the role of spatial structure in supporting informal communication in organisations

Awarding institution
  • University of Strathclyde
Date of award
  • 1994
Thesis identifier
  • T8103
Qualification Level
Qualification Name
Department, School or Faculty
  • The broad aim of this study is to explore the human interfaces in organisations in order to support productivity. Informal interaction has been accepted by many organisations as a means to improve performance and effectiveness. However, the level of interaction among staff is mainly deternimed by the nature of organisation structure. Many studies have established a connection between organisation structure and the physical properties of the workplace 1. The role of the physical environment in influencing the social patterns in organisations is a rich area in the literature. The premise is that the spatial structure of layouts can be used as a tool to manage human relations. This research hypothesised that there would be a relationship between the nature of spatial structure of office layouts and the level of infornial interaction. The hypothesis was tested on three levels. These were individual, small group, and large group. Through the concept of space syntax theory, the spatial structure of layouts was analysed in terms of the notion of depth (i. e. integration) and the notion of control (i. e. connectivity). The need for such research is prompted by the limited work in the literature that associates empirically spatial structure with social structure. The two measures of spatial intelligibility revealed different impacts on interaction on the three tested levels. However, the impact was stronger on the group than on the individual level. The second aim of this thesis was to develop an integrated model of interaction describing the significant predictors of spatial physical, and organisational variables that influence the level of interaction in organisations. The framework of the research was based on current and future office trends. There are three criteria that describe office trends world-wide. These are the increased use of information technology, increasing mobility, and the "churn" (i. e. changes). This research established a connection between these three criteria and social organisation.
Resource Type
Date Created
  • 1994
Former identifier
  • 276881