Electronic Thesis and Dissertation Repository

Thesis Format

Integrated Article

Degree

Doctor of Philosophy

Program

Business

Supervisor

Lim, Dominic

Abstract

This dissertation studies the novel phenomenon related to the social context of entrepreneurship—coworking space. Coworking spaces are known for creating a social community of entrepreneurial workforce—entrepreneurs, freelancers, contractors, remote workers, and others. The three essays that form this dissertation collectively highlight the entrepreneurial community in coworking spaces by proposing a novel typology of coworking space based on community, discovering the community building process, and analyzing user reviews of coworking spaces.

The first essay contributes to the literature on coworking space by creating novel ideal types of coworking spaces. Based on interviews conducted and archival data from 16 coworking spaces, this study finds that the degree of community orientation and operation type are two valid dimensions that create variances in community characteristics of coworking spaces. Five ideal types of coworking space aim to help our understanding of coworking spaces and their community characteristics.

The second essay adopts the theory elaboration approach of qualitative research to explore how founders and community managers of coworking spaces create and curate community in their coworking spaces. Using constructs developed by the social identity model of leadership, this chapter discusses how founders and community managers create shared social identity between members of their coworking spaces. Further, it finds that community building activities by management contribute to the thriving of members.

The third essay analyzes variances in user experiences of coworking spaces. While the first essay explores differences in coworking spaces based on coworking space operators’ perspectives, the third essay examines the same research question based on users’ perceptions of coworking spaces. Thus, this essay complements the first essay. The third essay uses a novel research method, comparative keyword analysis, and finds strong evidence that operation types of coworking spaces are closely related to the differences in coworking experiences.

Overall, this dissertation makes contributions to a better understanding of coworking spaces and their community initiatives. As well, it generates useful insights regarding how to create a social community of entrepreneurs.

Summary for Lay Audience

This dissertation studies the novel phenomenon related to the social context of entrepreneurship—coworking space. Coworking spaces are known for creating a social community of entrepreneurial workforce—entrepreneurs, freelancers, contractors, remote workers, and others. The three essays that form this dissertation collectively highlight the entrepreneurial community in coworking spaces by proposing a novel typology of coworking space based on community, discovering the community building process, and analyzing user reviews of coworking spaces.

The findings in this thesis reveal an important aspect that is relevant to coworking space operators and their members. This thesis reveals that a coworking space could be very different depending on the operator’s perspective on community. Some coworking spaces are newly renovated serviced offices with more shared area than previous generation of serviced offices. However, coworking space can also be a social community of an entrepreneurial workforce from different organizational backgrounds, where members can support and collaborate with each other. By theorizing the community-building process of coworking spaces using leadership characteristics, this thesis indicates that coworking space operators need to think about the shared social identity of their coworking spaces in order to create a coworking community.

For the potential members of coworking spaces, this thesis reveals that coworking experiences can be very different depending on which type of coworking space is chosen. Thus, potential members should consider the needs they expect to be fulfilled by coworking spaces and examine the fit between coworking spaces and their needs. If they are seeking a community, then the characteristics of community managers (and founders) should be one of the most important criteria to consider.

Overall, we hope that this work will spark more studies into the analysis of communities of entrepreneurial workforces in the coworking space context, thereby fostering a deeper exploration of entrepreneurial communities in social organizations.

Available for download on Sunday, December 04, 2022

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