Meals at the table. Of relevance to our study of organizational commensality, paramedics are consequently not part of meal planning and production at the firehouses, although firefighters typically offer them servings of their food and often pack food for the paramedics to eat while they are responding to calls outside of the firehouse. One such firefighter explained proudly in the company of his coworkers that “you don’t want to diss the wife” by not eating food that she prepares—thereby implying clearly and strongly that it was equivalently important to avoid disrespecting the rest of his work group. Our field research of firefighters—and firehouses—is specifically motivated by the stereotype of frequent commensality in firehouse kitchens and employs a complementary set of qualitative and quantitative methods to examine the relevance that food consumption might have for organizational behavior. Who chooses? Locker? It is noteworthy—and consistent with our key research question—that eating together was significantly associated with unit-level performance in Model 1. In addition to the demographic variables that we measured and reported in the previous subsection to allow us to consider the representativeness of the survey sample, we asked respondents to identify whether they presently worked in a single or combination engine-and-ladder firehouse and whether their current assignment tended to involve “fewer than average,” “average,” or “more than average” alarm responses. We present the results of a field study through which we find that men eat more food when sharing a meal with women than with men. Kayla: That brings up a really good point, that folks are going to change when they’re ready to change. My home table will rival the firehouse table. Do people eat differently after returning from calls? It's not just slapped together. (2007, p. 170) mentioned “lunchrooms” as a place where organizations can permit workers to take respite from stressful roles, and Rothbard, Phillips, and Dumas (2005) noted that cafeterias can provide a place for employees to intermingle work and family roles in cases where employees might bring their young children from onsite childcare facilities into the main cafeteria for lunch. For example, Bernstein (2012) specified eating in the company cafeteria as one of the ways that his study’s “embedded participant-observers” presumably fit into the organizational culture of the mobile phone factory they described. We can’t always tackle everybody. Although fire departments make a practice to include full kitchens in firehouses, all aspects of kitchen use are contingent on self-government by the firefighters. Scandinavian Journal of Medicine & Science in Sports. Shopping, preparing food, and eating together builds a unique camaraderie among firefighters-and provides a chance to blow off some steam when not saving lives. People eat separately (e.g., use microwave, order take out, bring food from home)? How do alarms or expectations of alarms affect cooking and eating and the types of meals you plan? In relation to our main interests and conceptual framework, Table 1 reveals significant positive correlations between work-group performance and eating (r = .19, p < .01), as well as cooking together (r = .14, p < .05). Very happy we stayed and we will be back soon! The main relationship that our study aims to explore and highlight involves the association between eating together and team performance. If no one brings in left overs then we have lunch together too. Big-B versus Big-O: What is organizational about organizational behavior? From among the full population of officers, 244 captains and lieutenants—each of whom lead independent work groups—responded and identified themselves as serving a primary assignment at one of the city’s firehouses. Using a mix of qualitative and quantitative methods, our field research shows a significant positive association between commensality and work-group performance. Against this backdrop, our study of how professional firefighters use food in their worksites (i.e., firehouses) contributes uniquely to the organizational literature by highlighting and measuring potential benefits that can be leveraged through the basic and universally necessary activity of eating. Because we are a combination dept. What about promotions? Who prepared the meal? When we added cooperative behavior as an independent variable in Model 2 in line with Figure 1’s conceptual diagram and partly motivated by the positive correlation between cooperative behavior and work-group performance (r = .43., p < .01), it is clear that eating together as well as our measure of organizational citizenship each were significant and the model has more explanatory power (R2 = .26). b1 = double house. In addition to informing the current practice of several large employers providing food as a fringe benefit for professional employees (e.g., Guynn, 2012; Levy, 2011), the present study has value, as eating is an activity in which people generally need to engage several times each day. Our sample of more-than-50% of the full officer population includes at least one officer from 97% of the city’s firehouses with a proportional balance across the four shifts that serve each firehouse. Almost all of the sites were also home to paramedic units; however, the nature of the paramedics’ job duties place them outside of the firehouse significantly more often compared with firefighters. What kinds of health concerns do the firefighters who work with you have? Focusing on two additional contextual variables, 57% of our respondents were primarily assigned within a “double house,” which means that there is a ladder and an engine company that work out of the same firehouse. Through our study of firehouses, we clearly define commensality as “eating together” to differentiate it from related activities such as food shopping and cooking. Smart nutrition includes eating an anti-inflammatory, anti-aging diet that provides more benefits than just fewer aches and pains. To date, organizational researchers have studied or used food-based figures of speech such as the “gobbling up” of competition discussed by Riad and Vaara (2011) and the “recipe book” template for product development routines described by Salvato (2009) as much as—or more often than—actual studies of food in the workplace. Do any local restaurants offer a deal for takeout for the firehouse? Practical implications that emerge from the research that we present in this article include the caution that commensality alone should not be expected to unilaterally cause cooperation or enhanced performance among coworkers. For the question about the percentage of people within their current work groups who are regularly “in” for jointly eating meals, 81% reported that everyone is part of the group meals, and 19% reported that three fourths of the group is part of the meal, and less than 1% indicated that no one is part of any group meal. As with the correlations, we conducted robustness checks with dummy variables that collapsed responses of less-than-100% commensality and the patterns of association reported in Table 2 continued to exist for Models 1 and 2. Eat. We conducted field research within firehouses in a large city to explore the role that interacting over food might have for work-group performance. This year, Firehouse of America and Firehouse Subs suppliers will together donate a portion of purchases at Firehouse Subs locations to the Firehouse Subs … As a dramatic example of the bonds among firefighters, as well as the importance of firehouse commensality, when an active-duty firefighter in a big-city fire department was publicly eulogized during the time of our study, a coworker highlighted that “[the fallen firefighter] gave you 110%, whether he was washing dishes [emphasis added] or going down a smoky hallway” (Tanfani, 2011).
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