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Close friendships among business competitors can actually result in enhanced profitability, according to a new report from researchers at the BI Norwegian School of Management.

The market researchers looked at clusters of managers who worked in a large shopping mall with 127 stores. Store managers who developed good social relations with their peers were more successful in terms of sales compared to those who had fewer friends. The researchers concluded that friendships among these competitors had the effect of stimulating greater creativity, new ideas and innovation.

They also studied the effects of having friends (which requires a greater investment of time and resources) as opposed to having more distant acquaintances. Both types of social ties were associated with increased sales. Store managers who were friends with more than 10 percent of other managers had higher sales per square meter of store space than those with fewer friends.

Having 20-70 percent of other managers as acquaintances was associated with higher sales, too. However, having more than that proportion turned out to be costly in terms of reduced sales. (On average, managers were friends with 5% of their colleagues at the shopping center and were acquaintances with 40%.)

The findings suggest that social ties can enhance productivity in the workplace and this could easily apply to other clusters of business people working together. The researchers give Wall Street, the Silicone Valley, and Bollywood in India as examples.

Do you find that your friendships in the workplace enhance or hinder your performance and effectiveness?

Source: Press Release

Other posts on The Friendship Blog on the topic of Workplace Friendships:

Betrayed by the office gossip girl

Friendship: Making it work

CNN: Are your friendships hurting your career?

How to handle a fizzling friendship

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