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Characterizing the evolution of commercial organizational spaces

Stephen Dobson (Sheffield Business School, Sheffield Hallam University, Sheffield, UK)

International Journal of Organizational Analysis

ISSN: 1934-8835

Article publication date: 20 July 2012




The analogy of the city as an evolving system is an enduring one that is both universally acknowledged and greatly researched in equal measure. The purpose of this paper is to illustrate the potential for urban characterization studies, emerging from the fields of cultural heritage and landscape, to provide a rich source of data for exploring the characteristics of spatial adaptation and innovation over time.


An analysis of commercial organizational space in the city of Sheffield, UK is provided here as the subject of study which employs English Heritage's Historic Landscape Characterization dataset to explore temporal characteristics of commercial space within a broader context of change, at the city‐wide scale.


It is proposed here that to achieve culturally sustainable development against a context of urban “deterritorialization” and homogenization the very character and distinctiveness of innovation and change needs to be explicitly acknowledged. An evolutionary approach to organizational space is suggested here as a means to locate such adaptation and spatial change in “place”.


It is hoped that the approach presented may provide an important stage in thinking about the spatial relationships between business and society over time and particularly their interdependence within a city ecology. The scope is therefore to explore multi‐level evolutionary characteristics of socio‐cultural space, appreciating multi‐scale temporal change through a broad lens of Darwinism.



Dobson, S. (2012), "Characterizing the evolution of commercial organizational spaces", International Journal of Organizational Analysis, Vol. 20 No. 3, pp. 309-322.



Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2012, Emerald Group Publishing Limited

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