Understanding knowledge exchange processes among diverse users of coworking-spaces

Ricarda B. Bouncken, Mahmood Aslam

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

83 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

Purpose
Coworking spaces use the idea of spatial co-location that improves communication and knowledge sharing among independent knowledge professionals. Fluid work structures and a sense of community can facilitate work satisfaction, creativity and entrepreneurship. Fundamentals to those positive outcomes are the knowledge sharing processes between users of coworking spaces. The purpose of this study is to explore the knowledge sharing processes in this setting where researchers still have very little understanding.

Design/methodology/approach
Based on an inductive research methodology, qualitative data were collected through observations and interviews with a variety of users (including freelancers, entrepreneurs and firms) incumbent in various coworking spaces in Germany.

Findings
Co-location of individuals in coworking spaces is first about physical proximity and second about socialization and collaboration opportunities, which then advance cognitive proximity. Thus, co-location can facilitate tacit knowledge exchange, ignite the social disembodiment of ideas, synthesize domain-related knowledge sharing and promote inter-domain learning. The institutionalization of knowledge management services will allow coworking spaces to increase these positive outcomes.

Practical implications
Findings of this study are interesting for managers of shared spaces and traditional firms that use spatial co-location. The authors propose institutionalized knowledge management services to enable multifaceted and multidisciplinary knowledge creation in organizations.

Originality/value
This paper sheds light on the role of spatial co-location in knowledge sharing processes among independent knowledge professionals in shared office spaces. Thereby, this study provides valuable insights into a phenomenon that has received little attention even though its practical importance is high.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)2067-2085
Number of pages19
JournalJournal of Knowledge Management
Volume23
Issue number10
Early online date4 Sept 2019
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 11 Dec 2019
Externally publishedYes

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