Not from, but in, the same organisation: cooperation, collaboration and competition in creative coworking spaces

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Increasingly more individuals are subject to project-based work arrangements that imply flexible and team work and a shift of any risk from the employer to the employee. Little is known about the social relationships of these workers, let alone about if and how socio-dynamic processes outside the traditional organization foster creativity and innovation. The present study investigates these processes in relation to cooperation, collaboration and competition in creative coworking spaces, which bring together autonomous workers within the boundaries of a shared environment. Based on traditional clustering theories, we develop the argument that coworking spaces, as microclusters of innovation, have the potential to leverage the cognitive proximity and absorptive capacity of
coworkers, resulting in creative and novel ideas, while competition between creative coworkers can also be expected. The findings of our qualitative case study, which was conducted in the Netherlands, highlight that different socio-dynamic processes co-occur in coworking spaces and involve: (1) cooperative attitudes and behaviors, leading to a sense of community; (2) collaborations by way of preferred partnerships and, occasionally, start-ups; and (3) soft internal competition in the form of peer pressure and intra-industry microclusters that compete externally. The motivations and goals of workers are aligned through selection procedures, while trust and information exchanges reside in the community aspect of the coworking space. Even if workers are autonomous, the management of and the physical space in coworking have a significant impact on the aforementioned processes.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)132-156
Number of pages25
JournalJournal of Creativity and Business Innovation
Publication statusPublished - 2019

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