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 advice-seeking ties under three organizational contexts: research labs, private companies and university-based 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 mixed-method research designs.

Behavior Research Methods, In Press

Full text PDF

It seems that your browser cannot display the PDF file; Please use this link instead. Thanks!


Müller, J., Meneses, J., Humbert, A. L., & Guenther, E. A. (2020). Sensor-based proximity metrics for team research. A validation study across three organizational contexts. Behavior Research Methods, In Press.
Julio Meneses
Julio Meneses
Professor agregat

Professor de metodologia de la investigació, investigador de l’Internet Interdisciplinary Institute i responsable de la Unitat d’Avaluació de Projectes Institucionals de l’eLearn Center de la UOC.