Supporting Inter-Organizational Collaboration in Coworking Clusters: The Role of Place, Community and Coordination

Publication by Karoliin Liimatainen in Espoo, Finland.
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Abstract in English:

During the last decade, collaborative working spaces have gained increasing interest among professionals whose work requires creative problem solving and the sharing of diverse knowledge and other resources. Earlier research has identified different types of coworking spaces as local platforms for knowledge creation. Such places, referred to as ‘coworking clusters’, gather actors from different backgrounds to collectively innovate. Thus, the clusters enable new opportunities for agile business collaboration between individuals, organizations and institutions.
Relatively few studies have yet examined inter-organizational collaboration processes in business-oriented coworking clusters. This thesis addresses the gap in current knowledge by studying what factors contribute to the success of inter-organizational business collaboration among co-located, yet independent actors.
This thesis consists of a theoretical literature review and an empirical case study of an early-stage coworking cluster. Based on the literature review, three primary factors affecting the collaboration conditions are identified: Place, Community and Coordination. The empirical study examines a joint pilot case of two public sector organizations to establish a collaborative working space for independent actors in the creative sector. The role and relevance of the three factors and their interdependencies are studied through eight thematic interviews with different stakeholders in the case cluster.
The findings of this thesis indicate that the optimal conditions for inter-organizational collaboration come from the combination of the three factors and their dynamics. As a result, a new framework is suggested to explain how the factors interact: a shared place enables a self-reinforcing cycle between the cluster community and its coordination.
The thesis advances the existing theoretical understanding and provides a novel perspective to creating the spark for collaboration in early-stage coworking clusters. Furthermore, new directions are opened up for future research. For practitioners, this thesis suggests guidelines for supporting collaboration effectively especially in the early phases of localized ecosystems.

Open Access? Yes

Publication Year 2015

English | Discipline Management