Professor Tiziana Casciaro, Rotman School of Management
Integrating the differentiated knowledge, skills, and experiences of its members is critical to the effective functioning of an organisation. Hence, interactions spanning formal organisational and informal social boundaries are a principal focus of organisational scholarship. Research has substantiated not only the range of important outcomes deriving from boundary-spanning networking, but also the formidable barriers to engaging in such networking. We argue that a chief impediment to boundary-spanning networking is a lack of motivation. Against this backdrop, we theorise that curiosity—which can be piqued by cues in the organisational environment—heightens individuals’ motivation to network across boundaries in organisations by promoting the drive to learn novel ideas, solutions, and opportunities. We designed and conducted a randomised-controlled-trial field study involving over 2,200 middle-managers in a North American financial services organization to test our predictions, and an experiment to substantiate the underlying causal mechanisms. The findings support our claims and illuminate the psychological foundations of boundary-spanning networking. Our results open new avenues for research, both on how curiosity affects networking and shapes network structure in organisations, and on how organisations induce curiosity in their members as the intrinsic drive to learn.