Space for creative and entrepreneurial activities? Coworking spaces in the entrepreneurial landscape of an economically challenged region
Coworking is an emerging form of work organisation, whereby independent entrepreneurs, micro-businesses and freelancers 'work alone together' in shared spaces, in which the emphasis is on community, relationships, productivity and creativity.
Accounts of coworking are widespread, but empirical studies are sparse, particularly those which bring together a range of perspectives, i.e. the providers, current users, and potential users, and consider its role, actual use and positive affect. Existing work is largely focused on metropolitan areas of Europe and the United States. To this end, this thesis addresses the gap in current knowledge by exploring whether coworking is an effective model for increasing creative and entrepreneurial activities in an economically challenged region, using South Wales as a reference region. The thesis furthermore seeks to advance understanding of how coworking spaces should be designed to maximise creative and entrepreneurial activities in economically challenged regions. The research questions of the study are addressed through a three-phase approach, using a mixed methods research design.
The literature is reviewed through the lens of Williams 'interaction model for creative behaviour', which emphasises three key factors for enhancing creative activities in a creative workplace: the skills of its people; the physical environment; and the social (cultural) environment. The roles and relevance of these three factors in enhancing creative activities within a coworking organisation are studied through 31 thematic interviews with coworking space providers in four geographical areas (USA, Europe, UK, and South Wales), and 142 questionnaire responses from current coworkers and potential users of such spaces located in the Cardiff City Region.
The findings of this thesis indicate that coworking is viewed as significantly beneficial for performance, across the range of areas investigated - from network growth to higher levels of creativity, motivation and productivity in the context of an economically challenged region. Moreover, the results suggest that creative and entrepreneurial activities in the context of an economically challenged region can only be maximised through the combination of the three factors identified, along with the pre-studied particularities of a given region's societal and economical context.
- School of Management