Whether you're at King Arthur's Round Table or the sixth-grade lunch table, everyone knowns who you sit by is of the utmost importance. But researchers at the University of Toronto's Rotman School of Management wanted to know if this wisdom was backed up by hard data -- they wanted find out if location really does play a role in deal-making.
To find out, they analyzed the U.S. Senate, comparing seating charts with co-sponsorships of legislation. They found the realtor's logic held up.
In looking at legislation proposed between 1979 and 2001, researchers showed that co-sponsorship of a senator's bill was more likely to come from his or her physically closest colleagues. What's more, politicians sitting nearby were more likely to co-sponsor another senator's bill together.
The study found that the more senior a senator, the less reliant he or she was on support from nearby.
The study is "a window into how people rally support for their initiatives," said Christopher Liu, a professor at the Rotman School of Management who carried out the research with Jillian Chown, a doctoral student at Rotman. The details of their work are set to be published in the Strategic Management Journal.
"Geographic location is a managerial lever," explained Professor Liu. "You can't force people to work with one another. But you can make them share a bathroom, or pass one another in the hall."
[Rotman School of Management]