Understanding knowledge exchange processes among diverse users of coworking-spaces

Ricarda Bouncken (Chair for Strategic Management and Organization, Faculty of Law and Economics, Universitat Bayreuth, Bayreuth, Germany)
Muhammad Mahmood Aslam (Chair for Strategic Management and Organization, Faculty of Law and Economics, Universitat Bayreuth, Bayreuth, Germany)

Journal of Knowledge Management

ISSN: 1367-3270

Publication date: 28 August 2019

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.

Keywords

Citation

Bouncken, R. and Aslam, M. (2019), "Understanding knowledge exchange processes among diverse users of coworking-spaces", Journal of Knowledge Management, Vol. ahead-of-print No. ahead-of-print. https://doi.org/10.1108/JKM-05-2018-0316

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Publisher

:

Emerald Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2019, Emerald Publishing Limited

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