Journal Article

Sensor-based proximity metrics for team research: A validation study across three organizational contexts


Wearable sensors are becoming increasingly popular in organizational research. Although validation studies that examine sensor data in conjunction with established social and psychological constructs are becoming more frequent, they are usually limited for two reasons: first, most validation studies are carried out under laboratory settings. Only a handful of studies have been carried out in real-world organizational environments. Second, for those studies carried out in field settings, reported findings are derived from a single case only, thus seriously limiting the possibility of studying the influence of contextual factors on sensor-based measurements. This article presents a validation study of expressive and instrumental ties across 9 relatively small R&D teams. The convergent validity of Bluetooth (BT) detections is reported for friendship and adviceseeking ties under three organizational contexts: research labs, private companies and universitybased teams. Results show that, in general, BT detections correlated strongly with self-reported measurements. However, the organizational context affects both the strength of the observed correlation and its direction. Whereas advice-seeking ties generally occur in close spatial proximity and are best identified in university environments, friendship relationships occur at a greater spatial distance, especially in research labs. We conclude with recommendations for fine-tuning the validity of sensor measurements by carefully examining the opportunities for organizational embedding in relation to the research question and collecting complementary data through mixedmethod research designs.

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Müller, Jörg
Meneses, Julia
Humbert, Anne Laure
Guenther, Elisabeth Anna

Oxford Brookes departments

Oxford Brookes Business School


Year of publication: 2020
Date of RADAR deposit: 2020-07-01

Creative Commons License This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License

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This RADAR resource is Identical to Sensor-based proximity metrics for team research: A validation study across three organizational contexts
This RADAR resource Cites GEDII wearable sensors dataset of 8 research teams
This RADAR resource Cites Supplementary material for "Sensor-based proximity metrics for team research" (Version 1.2). Zenodo.


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