ChapterPDF Available

Abstract and Figures

The emergence of collaborative workspaces is a remarkable feature of contemporary cities. These spaces have appeared rapidly, catering for the locational needs of self-employed workers, start-ups, and small-size companies. The objective of this paper is to provide an analysis of four categories of collaborative workspaces (Accelerators, Incubators, Coworking spaces, and FabLabs). For the case of Amsterdam, we conducted a website content analysis to assess how these spaces position and present themselves towards potential users. The empirical evidence shows that these spaces promise a variety of benefits, ranging from business development to access to social networks. This diversity illustrates the emergence of distinct work settings in an economic environment characterized by the need to work in a social environment that at the same time stimulates networking and collaboration.
Content may be subject to copyright.
The promise of coworking environments: a content analysis of
the positioning of collaborative workspaces in Amsterdam
Victor Cabral, Willem van Winden
Centre for Applied Research on Economics & Management,
Amsterdam University of Applied Sciences,
Wibautstraat 3B, 1091 GH Amsterdam, the Netherlands
Email :
Email :
Abstract: The emergence of collaborative workspaces is a remarkable feature of contemporary cities.
These spaces have appeared rapidly, catering for the locational needs of self-employed workers, start-
ups, and small-size companies. The objective of this paper is to provide an analysis of four categories of
collaborative workspaces (Accelerators, Incubators, Coworking spaces, and FabLabs). For the case of
Amsterdam, we conducted a website content analysis to assess how these spaces position and present
themselves towards potential users. The empirical evidence shows that these spaces promise a variety of
benefits, ranging from business development to access to social networks. This diversity illustrates the
emergence of distinct work settings in an economic environment characterized by the need to work in a
social environment that at the same time stimulates networking and collaboration.
Keywords: collaborative workspaces, positioning, collaboration, business benefits, accelerators,
incubators, coworking spaces, fablabs
1. Introduction
In the last decade there has been an increase in the number of workers with work place flexibility (e.g.
Grzywacz et al. 2007, Putnam et al. 2014). Workplace flexibility can be seen as the opportunity to adjust
where, when and how to work (Hill et al. 2008; Lai et al. 2009). This rise can be explained by on the one
hand the increasingly flexible approach from firms as to where staff can perform their jobs (e.g. Useem
and Harrington 2000) and on the other hand the rapid growth in the number of entrepreneurs,
freelancers, and start-ups (OECD 2016; Startuphub 2017). Many are “digital workers”, freed from
restraints of office or factory-based employment (Terranova 2000). Implicitly, they have the choice to
work from a variety of places such as from home, traditional offices, or other public spaces that can host
individuals beyond the realms of home and work (a.k.a. “3rd places” Oldenburg 1999). Typically, they want
to be in social environments where communication with other like-minded individuals is possible, and at
the same time can serve as a breeding place that stimulates collaboration and innovation (e.g. Chesbrough
2006; Botsman and Rogers 2011). To service this growing group of workers, there has been a rise of
collaborative workspaces that provide work places within a social environment (Spinuzzi 2012; Gandini
2015). Spaces such as accelerators, incubators, coworking spaces, and fablabs have appeared at a rapid
pace, catering for free-lancers, self-employed workers, start-ups, and small-size companies (e.g.
Capdevilla 2013; Waters-Lynch et al. 2016).
To attract independent entrepreneurs and small companies, collaborative workspaces try to
differentiate by promising different benefits to their potential users. These benefits vary from social
environments, to environments for networking, to places for knowledge sharing and learning. In
delivering such benefits, collaborative workspaces can differentiate by means of the design of the interior
of spaces and by applying managerial mechanisms, such as organizing events and managing access to
different communities (e.g. Parrino 2015; Fuzi 2016). Yet, for many workers it is unclear which spaces to
select because it is not clear which benefits such spaces bring and how they are delivered. In order to have
a clear understanding of how collaborative spaces present themselves to their users and which benefits
they promise, an insight in collaborative workspaces seems warranted.
This paper identifies different profiles of collaborative workspaces and tries to understand how
they differ in presenting their benefits to their users in terms of space, organizational setup, and
community aspects. The research is done in Amsterdam, which is a city that shows a concentration of
such spatial configurations. We investigate the following two research questions:
1) Which benefits are promised by different categories of collaborative workspaces?
2) How do collaborative workspaces claim to deliver these benefits?
First, we review relevant literature on the rise and range of collaborative workspaces (section 2). Next, we
explain our methodological approach(section 3). Our results are presented in section 4, and section 5
2. Literature
In this section, based on a literature review, we discuss the emergence of various types of
collaborative workspaces. Also, we review studies that help to understand how the spatial, managerial
and community aspects of collaborative workspaces might have an impact on collaboration and business
2.1 Explaining the rise of collaborative workspaces
One of the drivers for the emergence of collaborative workspaces is the shift towards flexible work
approaches by firms in modern knowledge economies. Emblematic for these flexible practices is how
companies look at the location where work can be performed. Advancements in mobile technology make
it possible to have workers perform work activities in other places besides the conventional offices (Brown
and Green 2001). The traditional office, where people sit at fixed desks, working from 8:00 to 17:00, is
rapidly being transformed into mobile workplaces. People do not necessarily need traditional offices to
connect with colleagues and to be productive. This can be done through the use of mobile technology,
and face-to-face time can be created only for specific activities. Mitchell (1995) calls this ‘post-sedentary
spaces’: environments that are available via networks of information technology. Due to mobility and
technological connectivity, the office is no longer a fixed place.
Arthur (1994) conceptualized this phenomenon as “boundaryless work”. With boundaryless work,
jobs are designed in such a way that workers sustain extra-organizational networks or activities and
traditional firm boundaries are broken. Terranova(2000) coined the term “digital workers”, freed from
the constraints of the traditional office or factory-based work thanks to new mobile technologies. In
advanced economies, there has been a rise in the number of such workers. A study by Intuit (2010) has
stated that 40% of the US workforce will be freelancers or self-employed workers by 2020. In Europe,
16.1 % of the total workforce was self-employed (OECD 2016). At the same time, Europe is showing a
rapid rise with regards to start-ups. Startuphub (2017), a website that provides an analysis of the startup
ecosystem across Europe, reports over 800.000 startups in Europe alone. These start-ups raised 16 billion
Euros in 2017, which is twice as much as what was raised in 2015 (Atomico, 2017). For many of these
startups, workplace flexibility and a better work-life balance is an often cited advantage to launch such a
venture (DeFelice, 2017).
An implication of work location flexibility is that workers can perform their work in a broad variety of
places. They can work at home, in libraries, cafés, and collaborative work offices. Felstead et al. (2003)
provide evidence suggesting that self-employed workers increasingly carry out work in a variety of
different places that go beyond home-based environments but also on the move. Helbrecht (2011)
discusses formal and informal work environments and describe the functions of neighborhoods in the
knowledge economies. Cafés, restaurants, and social centers are used to coordinate, arrange and
moderate projects and contacts. Additionally, there is supporting evidence that in project-based
production, teams come together in new social settings in order to generate knowledge and ideas
(Maskell et al. 2006). Rallet and Torre (2009) discuss three types of places for such temporary geographical
encounters. They call places such as trade shows, conferences or exhibitions “transitory places”; they also
introduce places specifically dedicated to facilitating interactions, such as “platform teams” or “project
teams”, and thirdly they discuss more common places, such as coffee houses, where workers can travel
to in order to meet, or used by individuals who need to travel to locations away from their usual
workplace. These developments indicate that for such workers, executing work activities is not limited
anymore to either home or office contexts and as a result new inspirational work environments are
sought. Collaborative workspaces emerge as a potential response to these trends and provide work
environments for such workers.
2.2 A range of collaborative workspaces
In parallel with trends in boundaryless work, and the rising number of mobile workers, there has
been a rise of new workspaces that facilitate productive activity alongside social interactions. Smidt et al.
(2014) introduce “innovation and creativity labs”, spaces which temporally unite specialized
competencies in a single place. They are “…configurations that enable organizations to be open to external
creative influences, as well as generating and promoting knowledge and innovations…” (2014 p.236).
Capdevila (2013) applies the term “localized spaces of collaborative innovation”. These are spaces of
innovation communities that are localized but do not belong to an organization. One of the main
characteristics of such spaces is that they share information and tools among the members and they
encourage the free sharing of knowledge (2013 p.3). Oksanen and Stahle (2013) introduce the term
“innovation spaces”. These are spaces that “…enable interaction, nurture social capital, accelerate start-
ups, generate artistic activities, and support the flow of ideas…(2013 p.815)”. They denote that such
spaces with shared areas, support people’s motivation, ability, and opportunity to share knowledge and
Studies on innovation spaces have introduced different configurations of collaborative spaces. Terms
and descriptions occurring refer to accelerators, incubators, coworking spaces, and fablabs. Accelerators
offer programs helping startups to fine-tune their businesses and prepare for upscaling through
mentoring, access to shared workspaces, networks of specialists, and capital (Cohen 2014). Estimates of
the number of accelerators range from 300+ to over 2,000, spanning six continents. Incubators, as a
separate category, differ from accelerators in the sense that mentorship services and potential networks
are not part of a start-up program but are available and can be asked for upon the need of the workers.
Generally, incubators are described as organizations that constitute or create a supportive environment
which is conducive to the development of new firms (Grimaldi and Grandi 2005; Chan and Lau 2005).
Workers in incubators can receive an integrated package of services such as shared workspace, coaching,
networking, and access to capital (Dutch Incubation Association 2018). Coworking spaces, as a third
category, are shared workspaces where independent entrepreneurs or small companies work in shared
open-plan office environments (Spinuzzi 2012). Unlike accelerators and incubators, coworking spaces do
not offer any forms of formal mentoring. Yet, similarly to both types, coworking spaces offer both office
facilities as well as extra services such as access to on and offline communities, workshops, and networking
events. Fablabs (fabrication laboratories but sometimes also named as makerspace, hackspace) are small-
scale open workspaces offering (personal) fabrication (Menichinelli 2011). A fablab is normally equipped
with an array of flexible fabrication tools (such as 3D printers) that cover several materials, with the aim
to make "almost anything". Waters-Lynch et al. (2016) organized the development of such spaces in a
dimension of ‘work-learn-play third spaces’. In an overview in which the development of collaborative
spaces is shown over time, the first types of spaces were incubators in the end of the 1950s. These were
categorized as learning third spaces. During the 1990s, hackerspaces and fablabs arose as play third
spaces, and in the 2000s coworking spaces and accelerators originated as learning and work third spaces.
These studies describe the recent development of innovative spaces aiming to service users who want
to work in social environments, and, as such, it generates an initial framework of analysis into how they
claim to promise a variety of benefits to the users.
2.3 Collaborative workspaces: the need for clear differentiation
Collaborative workspaces are businesses themselves, and like any business they need to differentiate
and communicate their points of difference with its competitors, so that potential clients can understand
the claimed differences and have a clear idea what benefits they get from spaces (Armstrong and Kotler
2003). Clearly positioning a firm or brand, is the key strategic framework for an organization’s
communications (Jewel 2007). Armstrong and Kotler (2003) describe this process of positioning as “…the
act of designing the company’s offering and image so that they occupy a meaningful and distinctive
competitive position in the target customers’ minds”. Spaces may emphasize the distinguishing features
of their brand and they may try to create a suitable image (Maggard 1976). This is particularly important
in markets that are competitive and where entry barriers for new spaces are low and when workers can
easily shift to alternative locations (Porter 1979).
Various positioning strategies can be discerned (Fill and Turnbull 2016). Bhat and Reddy (1998) make
a distinction between functional and expressive positioning. Functionally positioned brands emphasize
the product attributes and benefits, while expressive brands emphasize the social benefits that a brand
can bring. In the context of collaborative workspaces the functional promise embraces shared office
spaces in social environments with all the required amenities where one can work and develop their
business. Other attributes may be start-up programs, networking events and social activities. The
expressive approach considers the spaces as places to network where new relations can be established,
friends can be made, or where new business deals can be completed. Such strategies are not
comprehensive nor discrete (Fill and Turnbull 2016).
Collaborative workspaces have an array of possibilities to differentiate themselves from competing
spaces (e.g. Waters-Lynch et. al 2016). Our focus is on two types of differentiators: differentiation by
means of spatial design and differentiation through managerial mechanisms, such as facilitative tools and
the community setup. With regards to the spatial point of view, there is a vast body of literature that
highlights the role of space as an influencer of collaboration and social networking. Sailer and Penn (2007)
showed that the spatial configuration of an office shaped the formation and structure of intra-
organizational networks, since different office layouts corresponded with distinct network structures.
Research on network structures within an academic department were shown to be driven by distances
separating agents, as well as office locations of agents (Wineman et al. 2009). Heerwagen et al. (2004)
state that spaces that offer accessibility, visibility and short walking distances, entice networking behavior.
Other researchers have studied how spatial design influences interactive human behavior. Oksanen and
Stahle (2013) denote that spaces with shared physical spaces, such as having shared working rooms,
support people’s motivation, ability, and opportunity to share knowledge and experiences. Williams
(2013) introduced the ‘engage/disengage’ model. ‘Engagerelates to engaging with people, information
and ideas by actively looking for them as well as by having serendipitous situations. Physical environments
that enhance engagement are communal areas, lounge corners, canteens, coffee corners. ‘Disengage’
relates to distancing from others in order to stimulate thinking and focus through silent and private solo-
work. Spaces for disengagement are private booths with small single-user tables in corridors, or quiet
relax areas. Jenkins (2008) describes such contexts as a human-ecosystem. Basically, the physical space
should be designed with social, cultural, and behavioral elements of human interaction in mind. The
environment that is offered to those working within it, then constitutes the key factor of how comfortable
they will feel to establish interactions with others (Stilgoe 2005). As such, collaborative workspaces can
manage space to stimulate social networking amongst users and through those means differentiate from
other spaces.
Managerial mechanisms are also applied to differentiate from other spaces. These mechanisms
play a role in stimulating interaction, tie formation, and collaboration. Research by several scholars has
outlined a number of such mechanisms, such as facilitative tools and community management. Facilitative
tools are mechanisms which can “push” interaction, networking and collaboration among members
(Capdevila 2013; Parrino 2015). Some studies focus on e.g. the bridging role of facilitators (or moderators,
hosts, brokers) (Garret et al. 2014; Cabral and van Winden 2016). Facilitators can play a role in
coordinating and connecting members to each other in order to generate new products or services.
Others have focused on tools such as networking events, services, and support (Muhrbeck 2011; Fabbri
and Charue - Duboc 2014; Parrino 2015). Such tools stimulate users to interact, share knowledge, and
learn from each other. Other mechanisms influencing social interaction is the community management of
spaces. To stimulate networking and social interaction, studies on network management suggest that the
management of users in organizations, influences interaction practices which in turn can enable business
performance and contribution to cross-fertilization (Boschma 2005; Tata and Prasad, 2008; Bergh et al.
2011; Cohendet et al. 2014). Management of the community is often manipulated by having selection
procedures, selective admission processes, or having an industry focus (Moriset 2013, Fuzi 2016). Since
many organizations want to help in achieving successful communication and learning amongst actors, the
management of users is used to assure that the cognitive bases of actors are close to each other (Boschma
and Lambooy 1999). People with similar knowledge or expertise may learn from each other in an efficient
way and at the same time they can extend their cognitive scopes (Nooteboom 2000). Careful selection of
users facilitates community-building and the sense of belonging, which in turn is critical in stimulating
trust and business development (Gundolf and Jaouen, 2005; Tata and Prasad, 2008; Bergh et al. 2011).
To sum up, there is a rising number of workers and start-ups with workplace flexibility, seeking
social environments that stimulate social networking and collaboration. At the same time, different forms
of collaborative workspaces have emerged that aim to service such users. As any other business,
collaborative workspaces benefit from clear positioning towards those potential users, by presenting
organizational platforms, facilitative tools and community setups. In our next section, we explain our
methods to create insight in how different forms of collaborative workspaces differentiate themselves.
3. Methods
The aim of this paper is to analyze which benefits different types of collaborative workspaces promise
to users, and how they claim to deliver them. This research was carried out in the city of Amsterdam.
Before elaborating on the operationalization, we explain the city selection.
3.1 City selection
The knowledge-intensive and innovation-driven economy makes Amsterdam an attractive city for
young talent, entrepreneurs, start-ups, hobbyists, and freelancers (Smeekes 2011). These workers are
often flexible in where to perform their work and in order to develop their business, generate knowledge
and novel ideas, social interaction and collaboration is sought in modern and innovative spatio-temporal
environments. This group of workers has grown rapidly in Amsterdam. Damen (2016) reports that
Amsterdam hosts between 100,000 and 150,000 micro-organizations (entrepreneurs, self-employed
workers, start-ups) and this number is increasing rapidly. Another trend is that firms in the Netherlands
strongly promote distance and remote working. TNO, a Dutch organization for applied research, expects
that by 2020, around 30% of the Dutch firms provides location and time flexibility to their employees (TNO
2014). These trends indicate that in Amsterdam more and more work practices are performed outside
organizations and many of these workers work in collaborative workspaces. To this end, Amsterdam was
chosen as a case study area for the identification and presentation analysis of collaboration-enhancing
workspaces (see figure 1 for the yearly increase of collaborative workspaces in Amsterdam).
Figure 1: Yearly increase of collaborative workspaces in Amsterdam
3.2 Operationalization
In the first part of this research, we identify different types of collaborative workspaces. Next, we
clarify how they differ in the benefits they promise towards the potential users. To identify collaborative
workspaces online desk research was the main source; to examine how the spaces differ in promising
added value, content analysis of online websites was conducted.
3.2.1 Identifying spaces
Following the literature review, we define collaborative workspaces as open-plan environments that
provide workspaces to start-ups, independent entrepreneurs, self-employed workers, and small-size
companies with physical characteristics that enable unaffiliated users to interact with each other. These
range from having shared working rooms and shared meeting spaces (coffee places, cafeterias, lounges)
to having shared technical and physical infrastructure (e.g. equipment, machines). To facilitate interaction
between users, collaborative workspaces may apply various organizational tools. These range from
mentorship programs to workshops to having social events. Besides this, collaborative workspaces also
aim to manage the community to increase the chances of interaction. In some occasions through
stringent selection procedures, in other occasions by having an admission process. To reduce the scope
of spaces, the following types of spaces were excluded: basic multi-tenant buildings, spaces pertaining to
multinationals, large companies, or universities, and spaces such as pubs, coffee houses, and libraries.
To identify collaborative workspaces that fit the description, online desk research was the main
source, and the online search terms used were “collaborative workspaces Amsterdam”, “collaborative
innovation spaces Amsterdam”, “coworking spaces Amsterdam”, “shared workspaces Amsterdam”, “joint
workspaces Amsterdam”. This led us to sites such as,,, which provided further directions to websites of different spaces. The primary analysis of
these websites was performed by understanding website sections such as “Who are we?”, “What do we
do?”, “About us” etc. The analyzed material allowed for a classification of the spaces according to their
business model. The refinement and classification of spaces was based on the available definitions of
groups of spaces which followed from the literature review and that allowed us to apply the operational
description of collaborative workspaces. This resulted in a list of 64 spaces which were placed under four
existing categories of collaborative workspaces: accelerators, incubators, coworking spaces, and fablabs
(In this paper the term fablab is chosen to encompass various spaces where people come together to fix
things, and make new things in a social environment. This category also includes spaces that call
themselves makerspaces or hackerspaces). The description of the four categories, theoretical reference,
and characteristics of the categories of spaces are displayed in figure 2.
Operational description and reference
Accelerators offer programs that help startups to fine-tune
their businesses and prepare for upscaling through
mentoring, access to shared workspaces, networks of
specialists, and capital (Cohen, 2014)
-Shared working environment
-Acceleration program including
mentorship, and access to human and
financial resources
Incubators assist emerging businesses by providing a variety
of services such as access to specialized professionals, flexible
space, shared equipment, and administrative services
(Grimaldi and Grandi, 2005).
-Shared working environment
-Access to specialized mentors and
industry specialists
Open-plan office environments where workers work next to
other unaffiliated professionals for a fee (Spinuzzi, 2012)
-Shared working environment
-Organizational platform (e.g. events, on
and offline communities, workshops)
Fablabs (fabrication laboratories) are small-scale work spaces
offering (personal or shared) fabrication (Menichinelli, 2011)
-Shared working environment
-Shared fabrication facilities
Figure 2: characteristics of collaborative work spaces
3.2.2 Analysis of spaces by performing website content analysis
In step 2, we assessed what value these spaces promise to their potential users and how they
claim to do this. This was done by analyzing primary source data and performing website content analysis
of the different spaces. All the websites of the population of accelerators, incubators, and fablabs, were
analyzed. The category of coworking spaces had the largest population in Amsterdam (44). A selection of
ten websites were chosen which include representative multinational coworking spaces such as WeWork
and Spaces. Further inclusion of sites seemed to garner repetitions of meanings that were already
encountered. See figure 3 for the sample selection. After this, texts, pictures, and videos were extracted
from the websites and Atlas.ti software was used for the analysis.
Total number
of spaces in
1-; 2-
3-; 4-;
2. Incubators
1-; 2-;
3-; 4-;
5-; 6-;
7-; 8-; 9-
3. Coworking spaces
1-; 2-;
3-;4-; 5-http://b-; 6-;
7-; 8-;
9-; 10-
4. Fablabs
1-; 2-; 3-;
4-; 5-
Figure 3 :Number of collaborative workspaces in Amsterdam, analyzed websites, and sample.
Next, to generate insight into each of the four categories of collaborative workspaces, the extracted text
was coded. We defined variables related to which business benefits are claimed to be delivered, and how
such benefits are delivered. This was done per category of collaborative workspace. Assigning codes to
the extracted text and to code families was a process which was performed through cross-checks with
fellow researchers. Figure 4 displays an overview of the variables, the codes which were developed within
each variable, and theoretical references.
Business benefits: For this study the variables Collaboration and Generic business development were
chosen as business benefits. These are alleged benefits for the users of collaborative workspaces which
followed from previous studies (Capdevilla 2013; Oksanen and Stahle 2013; Smidt 2014; Waters-
Lynch et. al 2016).
An example of a quotation related to the variable “collaboration” is “..on the campus you will encounter
scientists, artists, philosophers, designers, engineers and entrepreneurs all working together…..”. This
quotation received the code “work together” and was placed under this variable. An example of a
quotation related to “generic business development” is “…we do not only support you in scaling your
business. We are also focused on personal and team development.. This quotation was coded with
“scaling”, “personal development”, and were placed under this variable.
How are the benefits delivered?: For this study the variables Physical characteristics, Facilitative tools,
and Community management were chosen as mechanisms to deliver benefits.
1) Physical characteristics. This variable relates to spatial arrangements that encourage and enable
collaboration between different actors, i.e. a physical environment aimed at creating and facilitating an
internal community (e.g. open-plan office environments, shared rooms, shared equipment). An example
of a quotation that was placed under this variable is “…This space has been designed for interaction and
serendipity but also calmness and reflection together with impact makers like yourself...”. This quotation
received the code “design for interaction”.
2) Facilitative tools. This variable relates to whether spaces have strategic mechanisms to facilitate the
users in their business development or in facilitating relational encounters. Examples are: having
community hosts, providing workshops; providing educational programs; and providing feedback and
support; giving access to financial capital and human resources. An example of a quotation that was placed
under this variable is “…a full calendar of business events, speakers and networking lunches.”. This
received the codes “events”, and ”lunches” and was placed under this variable.
3) Community management. This variable relates to whether spaces manage in and external
communities/networks as a way to promote knowledge-exchange and collaborations. Examples of how
internal communities can be managed are f.i. by having an industry or business focus; having admission
procedures and other entry policies to select users. External communities/networks can be managed by
facilitating access to partners, suppliers, corporate institutes, alumni etc. An example of a quotation is:
From Amsterdam to Johannesburg, Singapore to San Francisco, we have evolved into a rapidly expanding,
diverse global network of over 15,000+ members in 80+ locations.” This was coded with “international
network” and was placed under this variable.
Theoretical references
Developed codes
Business benefits
Moriset, 2013; Smidt et al., 2014,
Gandini, 2015; Capdevila, 2015
collaboration, connect to new people, creating together, cross-overs, sharing
knowledge, serendipity, work together
Spinuzzi, 2012; Waters-Lynch et al.,
achieve goals, create success, grow, innovation, learn, personal development, scaling,
team development, working
How are benefits delivered?
Heerwagen et al., 2004; Oksanen and
Stahle, 2013
collaborative work space, creative environment, customized work environment, design
for interaction, event spaces, equipment, lounge area, meeting rooms, office
essentials, overview of projects, overview of users, shared rooms, variety of spaces,
work space
Chan and Lau, 2005; St-Jean et al,
2012; Garret et al., 2014; Cabral and
van Winden, 2016; Cohen, 2014
access to resources, courses, events, funding, host, informal events, in-house
experience, lunch, mentors, pitches, providing feedback and support, start up
programme, supplementary services, workshops
Boschma, 2005; Moriset, 2013
Parrino, 2013; Cohendet et al., 2014;
Cabral and van Winden, 2016;
alumni, business phase of members, community, entry mechanisms, external network,
flexible terms, industry focus, internal network, International community,
international network, investors, memberships, partners, same industry, similar
people, variety of industries, variety of users
Figure 4: Variables, theoretical references, and developed codes
Next, to determine which benefits different categories of spaces promise to deliver, the number of
quotations pertaining to each business benefit was summed up. Afterwards, the ratio between
collaboration and generic business development was calculated per space category. The next step, was to
highlight which business benefits were mentioned the most. Codes that were linked to more than 10
quotations within the sample were determined as significant. These first steps enabled us to deduce which
benefits are promised by each of the four categories of spaces.
In order to determine how the different types of collaborative workspaces claim to deliver the benefits,
24 co-occurrence tables were made, combining the variables related to which business benefits are
delivered and how they are delivered (2x3x4 space categories). An example of a co-occurrence is
illustrated by the following quotation: “We make you part of a strong community (how) focused on
collaboration and problem solving (business benefit)”. In each sample, 10 co-occurrences were considered
as a significant number. These steps resulted in 4 tree diagrams displaying which benefits are offered by
each category of space and how they are delivered. The thickness of the lines represent the number of
occurrences which were revealed from the data.
We also created a positioning map which is represented graphically in figure 11. In this step the number
of quotes were systematically summed and ratios were calculated related to two dimensions: 1) the ratio
of quotations related to external and internal community management (External/Internal) 2) the ratio of
quotations related to physical characteristics aiming for serendipitous encounters and organized
facilitative tools (Focus on serendipity/Focus on organized facilitation). See figure 5 for the code overview
representing the two dimensions.
Focus on internal
Community, Host, Internal network, International community,
Similar people, Staff, Variety of industries, Variety of users
Focus on external
Alumni, External network, International network, Investors,
Organizational mechanisms for
networked collaboration
Focus on serendipity
collaborative work space, creative environment, customized
work environment, design for interaction, event spaces,
equipment, lounge area, meeting rooms, office essentials,
overview of projects, overview of users, shared rooms, variety
of spaces, work space
Focus on organized facilitation
access to resources, courses, events, funding, host, informal
events, in-house experience, lunch, mentors, pitches,
providing feedback and support, start up programme,
supplementary services, workshops
Figure 5 : Dimension, focus, and codes used for the positioning map
4. Results
The extracted texts yielded 602 quotations with a total of 990 assigned codes. The results show
that there are different approaches in the different collaborative space categories.
On the broadest level, results show that the four categories of spaces promise a combination of
both collaboration and business development opportunities (see figure 6). Accelerators, incubators, and
coworking spaces highlight business development opportunities to a higher extent than collaboration
opportunities. Fablabs present a balance of both business development and collaboration benefits. In
terms of how the collaborative workspaces position themselves towards potential users, results reveal
that there are differences in the focus of employed organizational mechanisms and in the scope of
networks that they may provide.
Figure 6: Promised value ratio collaboration vs. generic business development
Accelerators have a highly structured program which forges bridges to external networks.
Incubators, fablabs, and coworking spaces accentuate internal networks and communities more than
access to external networks. Meanwhile, the organizational mechanisms that they apply are less formal
than the ones of accelerators. Thus, the results show differences in levels of employed organizational
mechanisms and access to communities across the different spaces. Interestingly, all categories of spaces
promise a combined benefit of business development opportunities with access to communities. The
positioning strategies of the spaces are presented in figure 11 (scale of the axis is omitted to provide the
relative position of the collaborative workspaces).
In this next part, we discuss the results per space category regarding what benefits are promised
and how they are delivered.
Accelerators: Accelerators promise opportunities for scaling, growing, and learning for their
users. They stimulate users to develop an idea into a scalable, successful business and contribute to this
by creating social environments where connections to new people can be made. Typically, their offer
start-up programs in which start-ups are connected to others as part of the program. Based on the
empirical data, accelerators provide collaborative opportunities by facilitating connections and
collaboration mainly with external parties. The next quotation is representative for their claimed benefits:
Accelerators N=101 Incubators N=67 Coworking spaces N= 56 Fablabs N= 38
Collaboration Generic business development
Join our accelerator program where we help you build, validate and scale your business and find
the best international product/market fit. We help you better understand product design, market fit and
business models by enabling you to directly work with relevant suppliers, users, professionals and other
stakeholders in energy.Accelerator 1.
Many have created an organizational platform to facilitate external linkages, including a
combination of mentoring, access to capital and a vast offer of networking opportunities. Accelerators
claim to give continuous support to their users to make connections to relevant stakeholders. On their
websites, they highlight events and pitches as moments where such connections are made and were
feedback and support is provided. Such events and business pitches are presented as key moments for
startups to find solutions for problems they might face. Typically, accelerators organize events and pitches
with additional moments for networking, requests for advice, and discussion with specific audiences,
including venture capitalists, industry specialists, corporate representatives, and other stakeholders. The
following quotation represents these claimed opportunities:
“…X is an international event series bringing together startups and seasoned entrepreneurs for a
session of pitching and problem solving. The risk-free environment allows for startups to pose their biggest
challenges to an experienced audience of entrepreneurs, founders and investors providing direct
feedback, support and hopefully, a handful of great contacts.Accelerator 1.
The management of external communities is promoted as a way to forge connections and
potential collaborations. According to the data, accelerators promote strategic cooperation between
start-ups and multinational enterprises for the innovation processes of their users. This next quotation is
an exemplification of this:
We are highly selective over which brands can be part of our accelerator. They have to be open
to new ideas, have the time to work with our startups, and potentially offer trials, pilots, or first deals. We
work with the big dogs like X, who have the market influence to make your startup a success, who are
flexible, looking to collaborate and remember what it’s like to be in your shoes.” Accelerator 3.
For generic business development, the combination of the facilitative platform and community
management promotes business growth, scaling, and learning. The international network of relevant
mentors, partners, investors, in combination with organized events where business ideas are presented,
is claimed to support the process for early-stage firms in scaling and growing.
With branches in Colombia and the Netherlands, events in 25+ cities across the globe and a vast
network of startups, experts and investors, X offers an international community to startups. This way they
can best prepare themselves for global scaling. Accelerator 2.
Figure 7 displays the alleged benefits of accelerators and the strategic means to deliver the
Figure 7: Accelerators: benefits and delivery of benefits
Incubators: According to the empirical data, incubators promise social environments for
collaboration, growth and learning. This following quotation is representative for the claimed benefits of
“…X has evolved into a collaborative global community that now inspires, connects and enables
people across the world to sustainably impact society. We are a dynamic place where people meet and
collaborate with each other. We build bridges between startups, creatives, and corporates and bring them
together, setting up ways to connect with-, learn from- and grow with each other” Incubator 1.
The alleged collaboration is facilitated by offering access to both internal and external networks.
Internal networks are mostly presented though access to local and international incubator communities.
By joining an incubator, workers have access to a wide range of contacts and, as such, become part of an
(inter)national community that is allegedly focused on collaboration and solving problems for each other.
Some incubators also have a specialization (e.g. focus on virtual- and augmented reality, agriculture, or
maritime industries) and by connecting people with similar interests, such incubators present an
accelerated process related to solutions or opportunities for local or global issues of workers.
External networks are presented through partnerships with local and international firms. These
partners are portrayed as contributors to finding collaborative solutions for the workers at the incubators.
Such collaborative solutions often entail outsourcing of innovation-oriented processes of the partners to
start-up companies. At the same time, through such cooperation, workers have access to resources such
as networks, finances, and expertise that might be inaccessible or unaffordable for them.
Regarding generic business development, growth and learning is promoted through a
combination of facilitative tools and community management. Growth is facilitated through access to
resources and networks, such as knowledge, talent, and expertise that help existing businesses in growing.
Events are moments when such access to networks is facilitated. At such events, organizers, fellow users,
and partners share experiences and aim to help with problems. This entails that the internal community
and partners play an essential role in providing such experience and knowledge. Incubators claim that by
working with a strong community of internal and external professionals they stimulate the
entrepreneurial climate and improve access to talent, capital, networks, knowledge and markets. At the
same time, by becoming part of such networks, incubators claim to add value by being a platform that
builds bridges between the startups and corporates and brings them together, setting up ways to
connect , learn, and grow with each other.
We help virtual- and augmented reality startups and freelancers grow by providing them with a wide
range of resources and by making them part of a strong community focused on collaboration and solving
problems for each other..” Incubator 9
Figure 8 displays the alleged benefits of incubators and the strategic means to deliver the benefits.
Figure 8: Incubators: benefits and delivery of benefits
Coworking Spaces: Coworking spaces promise social environments that foster productivity and
generic business production, where, if wanted, connections can be made to other local people. Coworking
spaces emphasize the office component and attract users by renting places for working and where the
social aspect is an additional benefit. The following quotation is representative for these promised
Welcome to X, your place to work. Where you’ll watch businesses grow because of people and
ideas. Where you’ll surround yourself with those who love what they do.” Coworking Space 1.
Coworking spaces claim that their social environments are conducive to making connections to
new people. Such connections are mostly from internal networks. The communities that coworking spaces
aim to cultivate is what makes coworking spaces unique. Coworking spaces create such communities by
offering informal moments (e.g. by organizing joint lunches, having centralized coffee drinking machines)
which strongly stimulate serendipitous encounters. Coworking spaces also organize formal moments,
such as business events, networking lunches. However, this is promoted to a lesser extent than the
informal opportunities aiming for serendipity. Such casual encounters are claimed to add value either on
a professional level or on a personal level. Internal networks are also presented as enrichment of the
work-life experience.
Start up a conversation while you wait for your coffee or introduce yourself over lunch, and you
may just find a partner for your next big venture. The energy of the Spaces community is contagious and
even if you don’t find a new business associate, you may find a new friend. Add a full calendar of business
events and you’ll see just how hard we work to keep you engaged.” Coworking Space 2
Regarding business development, coworking spaces claim that the combination of their premises
and internal community are conducive to generic productivity and growth of businesses. They emphasize
the physical environment as a space that provides all facilities that workers need, offering a variety of
spaces ranging from private customizable offices to socially-oriented workspaces. The combination of the
physical space with co-location of other members is claimed to stimulate the working process. This is said
to have an activating effect that pushes workers to bring out the best in themselves. Especially, because
generally workers joining coworking spaces have shared interests, drives, and attitudes. Coworking spaces
claim that being surrounded with such a community stimulates productivity and growth.
This next quotation represents this promised benefit:
Are you in need of a more inspiring work environment that helps your company to flourish? X
offers a variety of fully enclosed, lockable, serviced office spaces in Amsterdam starting at 25m2 to
customized spaces. All offices can be fully furnished according to your wishes. Bring your company into a
creative startup ecosystem that enables you to bring out the best in yourself. When you rent an office
space, you become a member of the community and get access to everything X has to offer; enjoy our
fresh, daily lunch, get fit in our gym, attend our events, be part of our online community and meet with
new coworkers every day.” Coworking space 5.
Figure 9 displays the alleged benefits of coworking spaces and the strategic means to deliver the
Figure 9: Coworking spaces: benefits and delivery of benefits
Fab Labs
Fablabs offer social work environments where users work next to others, and where sharing
knowledge and opportunities for learning are highly promoted. This next quote is a representation for
claimed benefits of Fab Labs:
We combine co-working space with clean and messy workshop space, machines and tools. Really
what we’re doing isn’t about the space though, it’s about people. Through our spaces we bring together
people with all kinds of creative and technical expertise. All members are encouraged to pass on their
experiences and expertise to others.” Fab Lab 3.
Concerning co-working, the websites of Fab Labs promote knowledge sharing as a benefit.
Knowledge sharing happens during courses, events, and workshops for both internal users and external
publics that use the facilities. One of the ways Fab Labs are able to generate knowledge sharing because
of the availability of in-house experts.
Our experts can guide creative workshops from start to finish and design with you. We can
organize a public debate, or an evening to share the results with the public. Fab Lab 5
Most Fab Labs also create opportunities for knowledge sharing by giving access to equipment
(e.g. 3D printers, steel and woodworking machines). Such machines can be used under the condition that
afterwards the knowledge is shared with other users of the space.
With regards to business development Fab Labs promote themselves as locations for learning. Access
to the machinery and equipment during organized courses and workshops facilitates learning. Such
courses and workshops are meant for people who want to get a better understanding of the machines or
and how to apply it in their business development..
You can find out what a 3D printer can do and learn how to create, customize and print your own 3D
designs! The workshop will be concluded with the 3D print diploma, which will allow you to work on your
creations every Tuesday at X.” Fab Lab 4
Figure 10: Fablabs: benefits and delivery of benefits
Co-working Generic business development
-In-house experience
Sharing knowledge
-Access to resources
How is it
= 10 > 15 mentions
= 15 > 20 mentions
= 20 + mentions
Figure 11: Relative position of the different collaborative workspaces according to the level of
organizational mechanisms and the focus of community management
5. Conclusions
This paper analyzed four categories of collaborative workspaces (Accelerators, Incubators, Coworking
spaces, and FabLabs) regarding the benefits that they claim to provide for their users. The different
categories were analyzed in terms of space, organizational setup, and community aspects. The content of
websites was analyzed to deduce what benefits the four categories of spaces promise to workers and how
they differ in delivering these. Content analysis was used for developing codes related to physical,
facilitative, and community elements. In order to determine the promised benefits for workers in
collaborative workspaces two business benefits were chosen, collaboration and generic business
development, which are complementary and not mutually exclusive.
In line with literature on innovation spaces, our evidence suggest that different categories of spaces
position themselves differently toward their potential users, ranging from places for generic productivity
to places to learn, experiment, and grow (Gimaldi and Grandi 2005; Waters-Lych et al. 2016). This study
adds to this knowledge by presenting a deeper understanding regarding the specification of benefits that
is promised and how they are delivered from the point of view of the spaces. In competitive markets in
which spaces aim to attract growing groups of self-employed workers, start-ups, and small businesses
(OECD 2015; Angellist 2017), it is important to differentiate and clearly communicate the core points of
difference. The results show that collaborative workspaces offer a combination of collaboration and
generic business development benefits towards workers who seek to advance their business in social
environments. In all categories of spaces the claimed promises are built around social environments
where small businesses can develop in different forms whilst social networks facilitate the workers. We
shall revisit here the main differences regarding the proposed value and its importance.
Accelerators and incubators put a relatively strong emphasis on generic business development,
positioning themselves around the elements of growing and scaling. Fostering connections to relevant
others is presented as a mediator for growth. Co-working spaces and fablabs present a balanced mix of
coworking benefits and generic business development. Coworking spaces highlight themselves as places
to work with the additional benefit of making connections to new people. Fablabs clearly have as a focal
point that their environments are conducive to learning and knowledge sharing.
Regarding benefits and delivery modes, accelerators present their offering around growing and
scaling, and focus on external community management and formal facilitative elements to deliver this.
Accelerators emphasize the value of external networks and present possibilities to make connections to
corporations, partners, and investors. Connections with external networks is moderated through
facilitative elements such as start-up programs, mentors with corporate affiliations, events, and organized
moments for presentation of ideas to an array of audiences. Incubators claim to be conducive for
collaborative opportunities, by offering access to internal communities and external networks. Business
development opportunities range from growing to learning. Incubators facilitate collaboration by
presenting access to events, internal and external networks, and in-house specialists. Compared to
accelerators, incubators present the facilitative elements less frequently. Coworking spaces differentiate
themselves by offering places for working and growing in which the physical attributes of the environment
play a role in stimulating the workers. They offer a variety of inspirational and creative environments that
can be customized according to the wishes of workers. In order to differentiate from traditional offices,
coworking spaces promise added value by giving access to internal networks, and coworking communities.
Lastly, fablabs differentiate themselves by offering shared environments that give opportunities to
workers for experimenting and producing with local equipment and machinery. Fablabs also offer many
courses and workshops in the usage of such equipment for both internal and external users. As such,
fablabs deliver benefits of learning and sharing knowledge to users by applying physical and facilitative
components. Though learning about machines and using them in shared environments workers are
enticed to share ideas and experiences.
We conclude, based on our empirical findings, that the broad category of collaborative workspaces
represent a variety of spatial configurations providing space to develop businesses, promote collaborative
work, and enable access to important resources, such as people, equipment, knowledge, and finances.
For location-flexible workers and start-ups who seek a workspace combined with social networking and
collaboration, it is relevant to know which spaces moderate interaction and exploit co-presence to foster
joint work and learning. For collaborative workspaces it is therefore paramount to promote a careful and
conscious differentiation. The dynamics empirically observed in Amsterdam indicate that collaboration
and innovation processes have become increasingly diversified. The formats identified in this paper
complement this general development in various ways. While providing spaces for work, social interaction
and innovation, collaborative workspaces also provide the setting to deal with the innovation challenges
of workers, and the increasing transformation of labor markets, and of the knowledge economy more
generally. In increasingly flexible business environments, collaborative workspaces provide conditions for
knowledge workers, to combine their knowledge domains and shared experiences in new, dynamic
market environments.
In light of the limited nature of literature highlighting the differentiation of collaborative workspaces
regarding benefits and delivery modes, this research has attempted to clarify this. Managerially, this
research offers insight into how collaborative workspace managers can convey clear information towards
potential users regarding what their spaces stand for and how they differ from competing spaces. This is
particularly relevant in markets that are increasingly competitive and where workers have growing need
for expressive and functional information regarding where to work. The results also have implications for
entrepreneurship promotion policies, that should take localized interfirm dynamics more into account as
a source of innovation. Theoretically, a specification of the benefits and delivery modes of collaborative
workspaces in the larger pool of innovation spaces can provide a useful framework for future research.
The empirical part provides a first attempt to better understand collaborative workspaces and how they
contribute to the growing group of workers with work-location flexibility. As such, it sheds light on
collaborative innovation and networking practices that embody new types of social capital in an
increasingly flexible urban economy.
6. Bibliography
Armstrong, G., and Kotler, P. (2005). Marketing: an introduction, Prentice Hall, Upper Saddle River, N.J
Arthur, M. B. (1994). The boundaryless career: A new perspective for organizational inquiry. Journal of
organizational behavior, 15(4), 295-306.
Atomico (2017). [online] The state of European Tech 2017. (Accessed 15 May 2017) Bergh, P.,
Thorgren, S., & Wincent, J. (2011). Entrepreneurs learning together: The importance of building trust for
learning and exploiting business opportunities. International Entrepreneurship and Management
Journal, 7(1), 17-37.
Bhat, S., and Reddy, S. K. (1998). Symbolic and functional positioning of brands. Journal of consumer
marketing, 15(1), 32-43.
Boschma, R. (2005). Proximity and innovation: a critical assessment. Regional studies, 39(1), 61-74.
Boschma, R., and Lambooy, J. (1999). The prospects of an adjustment policy based on collective learning
in old industrial regions. GeoJournal, 49(4), 391-399.
Botsman, R., and Rogers, R. (2011). What's mine is yours: how collaborative consumption is changing the
way we live. HarperCollins, London, UK
Brown, B., and Green, N. (Eds.). (2012). Wireless world: Social and interactional aspects of the mobile
age, Springer Science and Business Media, London, UK
Cabral, V., and Winden, W. V. (2016). Coworking: an analysis of coworking strategies for interaction and
innovation. International Journal of Knowledge-Based Development, 7(4), 357-377.
Capdevila, I. (2013) [online] Knowledge dynamics in localized communities: Coworking spaces as
microclusters / (Accessed 12 August 2017)
Chan, K. F., and Lau, T. (2005). Assessing technology incubator programs in the science park: the good,
the bad and the ugly. Technovation, 25(10), 1215-1228.
Chesbrough, H. W. (2006). The era of open innovation. Managing innovation and change, 127(3), 34-41.
Cohen, S. (2013). What do accelerators do? Insights from incubators and angels. Innovations:
Technology, Governance, Globalization, 8(3), 19-25.
Cohendet, P., Grandadam, D., Simon, L., and Capdevila, I. (2014). Epistemic communities, localization
and the dynamics of knowledge creation. Journal of economic geography, 14(5), 929-954
Damen, T. (2016). [online]
amsterdam~a4327899/ (Accessed 10 August 2017)
DIA - Dutch Incubation Association. (2018). [online] DIA - Dutch Incubation Association, (Accessed 10 January 2018)
DeFelice, M. (2017). [online] Why Flexibility Is The Best Perk Your Company Isn't Considering. Retrieved
company-isnt-considering/#2ed36fcf59be (Accessed 15 May 2018)
Fabbri, J., and Charue-Duboc, F. (2014, May). Exploring the everyday life of entrepreneurs in a coworking
space. In XXIIIème conférence annuelle de l'AIMS-26 au (Vol. 28).
Felstead, A., Jewson, N., and Walters, S. (2003). Managerial control of employees working at
home. British Journal of Industrial Relations, 41(2), 241-264.
Fill, C., and Turnbull, S. L. (2016). Marketing communications: discovery, creation and conversations.
Pearson, Harlow, UK.
Fuzi, A. (2016). Space for creative and entrepreneurial activities? Coworking spaces in the
entrepreneurial landscape of an economically challenged region (Doctoral dissertation, Cardiff
Metropolitan University)
Gandini, A. (2015). The rise of coworking spaces: A literature review. ephemera, 15(1), 193
Garrett, L. E., Spreitzer, G. M., and Bacevice, P. (2014, January). Co-constructing a sense of community at
work: the emergence of community in coworking spaces. Academy of Management Proceedings (Vol.
2014, No. 1, p. 14004).
Grimaldi, R., and Grandi, A. (2005). Business incubators and new venture creation: an assessment of
incubating models. Technovation, 25(2), 111-121.
Grzywacz, J. G., Casey, P. R., and Jones, F. A. (2007). The effects of workplace flexibility on health
behaviors: A cross-sectional and longitudinal analysis. Journal of Occupational and Environmental
Medicine, 49(12), 1302-1309.
Gundolf, K., & Jaouen, A. (2005). Patterns and coordination of collective action in small and very small
business: the case of a tourist village in the Pyrenees. International Journal of Entrepreneurship and
Small Business, 2(4), 392-403.
Heerwagen, J. H., Kampschroer, K., Powell, K. M., and Loftness, V. (2004). Collaborative knowledge work
environments. Building research and information, 32(6), 510-528.
Helbrecht, I. (2011). Die „Neue Intoleranz der Kreativen Klasse: Veränderungen in der Stadtkultur durch
das Arbeitsethos der flexiblen Ökonomie. Die Zukunft der europäischen Stadt: Stadtpolitik, Stadtplanung
und Stadtgesellschaft im Wandel. Wiesbaden, 119-135.
Hill, E., Grzywacz, J. G., Allen, S., Blanchard, V. L., Matz-Costa, C., Shulkin, S., and Pitt-Catsouphes, M.
(2008). Defining and conceptualizing workplace flexibility. Community, Work and Family, 11(2), 149-163.
Intuit (2016). 20 trends that will shape the next decade. [online]
(Accessed 12 November 2017)
Jenkins, R. (2008). Rethinking ethnicity. Sage. Thousand Oakes, CA.
Jewell, R. D. (2007). Establishing effective repositioning communications in a competitive
marketplace. Journal of marketing communications, 13(4), 231-241.
Kersley, B., Alpin, C., Forth, J., Bryson, A., Bewley, H., Dix, G., and Oxenbridge, S. (2005). First Findings
from the 2004 Workplace Employment Relations Survey. London: Department of Trade and
Industry, 110.
Lai, L., Rousseau, D. M., and Chang, K. T. T. (2009). Idiosyncratic deals: Coworkers as interested third
parties. Journal of Applied Psychology, 94(2), 547.
Maggard, J. P. (1976). Positioning revisited. Journal of Marketing, 40(1), 63-66.
Maskell, P., Bathelt, H., and Malmberg, A. (2006). Building global knowledge pipelines: The role of
temporary clusters. European planning studies, 14(8), 997-1013.
Mainiero, L. A., and Sullivan, S. E. (2005). Kaleidoscope careers: An alternate explanation for the “opt-
out “revolution. The Academy of Management Executive, 19(1), 106-123.
Menichinelli, M. (2011). [online] Business models for fab
labs. (Accessed 10
June 2017)
Mitchell, W. J. (2010). Post-Sedentary Space'. The New Media and Cybercultures Anthology, 79-89.
Moriset, B. (2013). Building new places of the creative economy. The rise of coworking spaces.
Muhrbeck, A., Waller, R., and Berglund, M. (2011). Coworking: A Creative Workspace. Unpublished
bachelor thesis (Jönköping International Business School)
Nooteboom, B. (2000). Learning by interaction: absorptive capacity, cognitive distance and
governance. Journal of management and governance, 4(1-2), 69-92
OECD (2016). Entrepreneurship at a Glance 2016. OECD Publishing.
Oksanen, K., and Ståhle, P. (2013). Physical environment as a source for innovation: investigating the
attributes of innovative space. Journal of knowledge management, 17(6), 815-827.
Oldenburg, R. (1999). The great good place: Cafes, coffee shops, bookstores, bars, hair salons, and other
hangouts at the heart of a community. Marlow and Company, New York, NY.
Parrino, L. (2015). Coworking: assessing the role of proximity in knowledge exchange. Knowledge
Management Research and Practice, 13(3), 261-271
Pink, D.H.(2001). Free Agent Nation: How Americans New Independent Workers Are Transforming the
Way We Live. Warner Books. New York, NY.
Porter, M. E. (1979). How competitive forces shape strategy. Harvard Business Review, March-April
1979, 21-38.
Putnam, L. L., Myers, K. K., and Gailliard, B. M. (2014). Examining the tensions in workplace flexibility
and exploring options for new directions. Human Relations, 67(4), 413-440.
Rallet, A., and Torre, A. (2009). Temporary geographical proximity for business and work coordination:
when, how and where?. SPACES online, 2, 2009-02
Sailer, K., and Penn, A. (2007). The performance of spaceexploring social and spatial phenomena of
interaction patterns in an organisation. Proceedings of the Architecture and Phenomenology Conference.
Faculty of Architecture and Town Planning, The Technion, Israel Institute of Technology.
Schmidt, S., Brinks, V., and Brinkhoff, S. (2014). Innovation and creativity labs in Berlin. Zeitschrift für
Wirtschaftsgeographie, 58(1), 232-247
Smeekes, A. (2011). Nationale identiteit, nationale geschiedenis en de acceptatie van nieuwkomers in
Nederland. Migrantenstudies, 2011-02
Spinuzzi, C. (2012). Working alone together: Coworking as emergent collaborative activity. Journal of
Business and Technical Communication, 26(4), 399-441
Startuphub. (2017). [online] (Accessed 10 May 2017)
Stilgoe, J. R. (2005). Landscape and images. University of Virginia Press. Charlottesville, VA.
St-Jean, E., & Audet, J. (2012). The role of mentoring in the learning development of the novice
entrepreneur. International Entrepreneurship and Management Journal, 8(1), 119-140.
Tata, J., & Prasad, S. (2008). Social capital, collaborative exchange and microenterprise performance:
The role of gender. International Journal of Entrepreneurship and Small Business, 5(3-4), 373-388.
Terranova, T. (2000). Free labor: Producing culture for the digital economy. Social text, 18(2), 33-58
TNO (2014). [online] De toekomst van flex. (Accessed 19 December
Useem, J., and Harrington, A. (2000). Welcome to the new company town. Fortune, 141(1), 62-68
Waters-Lynch, J. M., Potts, J., Butcher, T., Dodson, J., and Hurley, J. (2016). Coworking: A
transdisciplinary overview. Available at: Available at SSRN:
(Accessed 15 July 2017)
Williams, A. (2013). A grammar of creative workplaces (Doctoral dissertation, University of East London).
Wineman, J. D., Kabo, F. W., and Davis, G. F. (2009). Spatial and social networks in organizational
innovation. Environment and Behavior, 41(3), 427-442.
... Focus Literature stream 1. Bamford & Ernst, 2002 Manage an Alliance portfolio Economic theories 2. Bouncken et al., 2016 Co-working spaces Collaborative work-spaces and Co-working spaces 3. Cabral & van Winden, 2016 Categories of Co-working spaces Collaborative work-spaces and Co-working spaces 4. Cabral & van Winden, 2018 Categories of Co-working spaces Collaborative work-spaces and Co-working spaces 5. Chesbrough & Rosenbloom (2002) The role of a business model in a context of open innovation Economic theories 6. Chesbrough, 2003 Open innovation: A new paradigm Economic theories 7. Chow & Chan, 2008 Social networks and social trust' effects on organizational knowledge sharing. Learning and Knowledge-dissemination 8. Cooke, 2002 Cluster theories and if location matters Cluster theories 9. Gallini, 2002 The economies of patents Economic theories 10. ...
Full-text available
Rapid technological developments make firms favor the creation of new approaches to corporate entrepreneurship and technology management. One approach, corporate-startup collaboration has reached a new level in the 21st Century and many different models currently exist as a result. However, research on how to evaluate the effects of those collaboration models is limited, and in some cases, non-existent. The purpose of this paper is to test if an analytical framework developed for measuring the results from corporate-startup co-location, also could be useful for measuring the results of other types of corporate-startup collaboration models. The framework is tested through the lens of the corporation and the collaboration unit. The empirical study includes 10 cases, representing five different corporate-startup models. The finding was that the analytical framework is useful in planning, analyzing and follow- up the results of many different corporate-startup collaboration models.
Full-text available
Rapid technological developments make firms favor the creation of new approaches to technology management. Startups can offer large firms access to new technologies and the emphasis on corporate-startup collaboration has therefore reached a new level. Many models exist and co-location is one of these. While co-location in the context of clusters and innovation systems has been studied in previous literature, research on large firms’ co-location of startups is very limited. The purpose of this paper is to extend the existing body of knowledge on corporate-startup co-location, by investigating the broader phenomenon of business co-location and then suggest a framework and metrics to evaluate the effects of the corporate-startup co-location model. The paper originates from earlier conducted studies on corporate-startup collaboration models, in which research on corporate-startup co-location is more or less non-existent. For this paper a management literature review on the broader phenomenon of business co-location is conducted. The theoretical contributions are both the extended body of knowledge of ‘business co-location’, and a proposed multi-stakeholder framework and metrics for evaluating the effects of corporate-startup co-location.
Conference Paper
Full-text available
Contemporary organizations develop porous structures and permeable boundaries to employ external knowledge and resources. On the one hand, permeability in organizations engenders fluidity which increases organizational capabilities through adaptability, diversity, and speed. On the other hand, organizations continuously redefine and reinvent their boundaries to remain stable and to exhibit self-identity. These two competing demands of organizations to simultaneously become fluid as well as stable are evident in modern shared workplaces where organizations share offices with other organizations and professionals. The purpose of this research is to analyze how permeability in shared office spaces influence the internal work structures and processes of members’ organizations who have relatively fixed memberships, stable structures, and steep hierarchies. We collected qualitative data based on an inductive research methodology from the providers and users of a coworking-space. Our study concludes that participational autonomy, spatial and virtual connectivity and interrelational heterogeneity determine the level of permeability in a coworking-space. The space level permeability influences the work structures and task processes of members’ organizations. Changeability in organizational processes engenders structural differentiation, decentralization, and ad-hoc work processes, which provide autonomy to the organizational employees or independent users to define their work structures, task processes, and work routines. Organizations though maintain their rudimentary structures and permeable boundaries through self-regulatory resources. In this way, permeability enables organizations to leverage the differentiated capabilities of members within and outside of the space and facilitates knowledge exchange across boundaries and hierarchical levels that lead to innovative outcomes.
Conference Paper
Full-text available
It is often proposed that the design of the physical workplace influences social interaction and therefore organisational behaviour in one way or the other. Yet there is little accordance among scholars on how exactly the relationship between the social space and the social structure of an organisation is constituted. In order to explore this relationship, we combine an interpretive, phenomenological approach with a correlational, syntactic approach. Using the example of a workplace environment studied on multiple layers as well as in detail we propose that physical space influences the formation of social structure and organisational behaviour in manifold, but analytically tractable ways. The application of qualitative and quantitative methods in tandem proves fruitful for understanding the complex phenomena that characterise the emergence of organisational culture.
Working Paper
Full-text available
The purpose of this paper is to introduce the concept of ‘coworking’ to an academic audience. It argues that coworking is a complex social phenomenon that can be differentiated from other spatial concepts that relate to work, learning and social interactions. The paper provides an historical account of the origins of coworking and reviews the existing scholarly and popular literature, offering a theoretical distinction between coworking spaces and serviced offices that hinges upon the degree of social collaboration versus the importance of location and facilities of the office environment. An overview of the most recent data on the number and location of coworking spaces across the world is provided, including a few examples that demonstrate the spatial distribution of coworking spaces within cities. It also provides some data on typical profiles of coworkers, and links coworking to the broader contextual debates on non-standard and creative work. Finally the paper suggests some future research directions by linking relevant extant theory with key questions across the fields of economic geography, urban planning economics and organisational studies.
Full-text available
Workplace flexibility initiatives as a potential remedy for work-life conflicts are the focus of a considerable number of investigations. Despite their contributions, research findings reveal tensions and contradictions in the ways that employees, managers and organizations develop, enact and respond to these flexibility initiatives. This critical review identifies three primary tensions (variable vs fixed arrangements, supportive vs unsupportive work climates and equitable vs inequitable implementation of policies) that reveal inconsistent and sometimes contradictory findings. We tie these tensions, and the management of them, to an overarching dilemma in implementing workplace flexibility, the autonomy-control paradox. To develop alternatives for handling these tensions, we recommend reframing them through changing organizational cultures, adopting a philosophy of adaptability, customizing work and making workplace flexibility an employee right. We conclude by urging organizations and society to reframe the tensions between work and life, to treat them as enriching rather than competing with each other and to transcend these opposite poles through exploring third spaces.
This paper analyses how managed coworking spaces affect the innovation process of their members. Managed coworking spaces are working environments for independent professionals, with an active role of the manager of the space to foster collaboration and interaction. It is often taken for granted that coworking contributes to innovation, yet, it is not fully understood how coworking spaces can be effective in fostering innovation, and what role management could play. This paper presents a mix of strategic management tools applied by two coworking spaces in Amsterdam. Qualitative research techniques were applied to shed light on their effectiveness for interaction and innovation. We analyse policy implications for owners/managers of coworking spaces to enhance collaboration, knowledge transfer and promoting new business opportunities.
'This book is a welcome and brilliantly crafted overview of this field. It represents a major advance in our understanding of how ethnicity works in specific social and cultural contexts. The second edition will be an invaluable resource for both students and researchers alike' - John Solomos, City University, London The first edition of Rethinking Ethnicity quickly established itself as a popular text for students of ethnicity and ethnic relations. This fully revised and updated second edition adds new material on globalization and the recent debates about whether ethnicity matters and ethnic groups actually exist. While ethnicity - as a social construct - is imagined, its effects are far from imaginary. Jenkins draws on specific examples to demonstrate the social mechanisms that construct ethnicity and the consequences for people's experience. Drawing upon rich case study material, the book discusses such issues as: the 'myth' of the plural society; postmodern notions of difference; the relationship between ethnicity, 'race' and nationalism; ideology; language; violence and religion; and the everyday construction of national identity. The result is a compact, refreshing and stimulating enquiry into an indispensable concept for making sense of the contemporary world.
John Stilgoe is just looking around. This is more difficult than it sounds, particularly in our mediated age, when advances in both theory and technology too often seek to replace the visual evidence before our own eyes rather than complement it. We are surrounded by landscapes charged with our past, and yet from our earliest schooldays we are instructed not to stare out the window. Someone who stops to look isn't only a rarity; he or she is suspect. Landscape and Images records a lifetime spent observing America's constructed landscapes. Stilgoe's essays follow the eclectic trains of thought that have resulted from his observation, from the postcard preference for sunsets over sunrises to the concept of "teen geography" to the unwillingness of Americans to walk up and down stairs. In Stilgoe's hands, the subject of jack o' lanterns becomes an occasion to explore centuries-old concepts of boundaries and trespassing, and to examine why this originally pagan symbol has persisted into our own age. Even something as mundane as putting the cat out before going to bed is traced back to fears of unwatched animals and an untended frontier fireplace. Stilgoe ponders the forgotten connections between politics and painted landscapes and asks why a country whose vast majority lives less than a hundred miles from a coast nonetheless looks to the rural Midwest for the classic image of itself. At times breathtaking in their erudition, the essays collected here are as meticulously researched as they are elegantly written. Stilgoe's observations speak to specialists-whether they be artists, historians, or environmental designers-as well as to the common reader. Our landscapes constitute a fascinating history of accident and intent. The proof, says Stilgoe, is all around us. © 2005 by the Rector and Visitors of the University of Virginia. All rights reserved.
We define innovation and creativity labs as physical spaces for testing innovative ideas, alternative business models, new economic practices or flexible cooperation structures. As such, they are fields of experimentation and crystallization points for temporary practices that generate product, process, and organizational innovations. In these places, processes of interdisciplinary collaboration, and open innovation embrace and combine knowledge from multiple fields of expertise, most prominently from the creative and technology intensive sectors. This paper discusses the results of a research project that compiled an inventory of the dynamic spatial and organization development of innovation and creativity labs in Berlin. The empirical evidence highlights the variety of temporary spatial configurations ranging from grassroots labs, different forms of coworking, design and research and development (R&D)-oriented studios, to incubation and acceleration models. This diversity epitomizes distinct temporary social settings in an economic environment characterized by diverse modes of democratization, flexibility, commercialization and decentralization of innovation processes.
The late 2000s have seen the emergence of a new kind of workplace: the coworking space. As of February 2013, 2500 spaces had been identified worldwide. This paper endeavors to situate the phenomenon within the existing theory of the creative, urban economy, and to serve as a platform for discussion and further research. Coworking spaces (CS) are regarded as "serendipity accelerators", designed to host creative people and entrepreneurs who endeavor to break isolation and to find a convivial environment that favors meetings and collaboration. At the beginning of the movement, CS creations were purely private initiatives. The concept has since attracted the interest of media, and CS have been incorporated in larger public programs aimed at the making of the "creative city", which often materializes in the regeneration of decayed industrial neighborhoods. CS are the outcome of the blurring of the frontiers and hybridization processes between technological, economic and social categories. Even if their sustainability and growth potential deserve to be questioned, they are strongly anchored in the workplace landscape of major business cities.
This article contextualises the rising phenomenon of coworking in the theoretical framework of proximity and knowledge exchange. We present an empirical study through which we were able to assess if the physical co-presence of coworkers in these shared environments stimulates knowledge exchange among them. After identifying two different configurations of coworking spaces from the perspective of the forms of proximity that they involve, we designed a research project aimed at isolating geographical proximity and studying its role in facilitating the transmission of knowledge. The qualitative study of these two configurations of spaces underlined the importance of elements of organisational and social proximity in stimulating collaboration among coworkers and in promoting exchange of other forms of knowledge.