Ph.D. Thesis

My full PhD thesis can be downloaded by following this link (4.2 Mb)

Coworkers, Makers, and Fabbers Global, Local and Internal Dynamics of Innovation in Localized Communities in Barcelona

University: HEC Montréal (affiliated to Université de Montréal)
Date: November 2014
Supervisor: Patrick Cohendet

The innovative capacity of cities does not exclusively depend on the innovation processes managed by local organizations. This thesis aims to emphasize the role that actors outside firms, especially communities, play in facilitating knowledge and innovation dynamics at both the local and global levels, thus contributing to the innovative and creative capacity of cities. The research is based on the study of urban innovation communities like the ones that emerge in localized spaces of collaborative innovation such as coworking spaces, maker / hacker spaces, Fab Labs, or Living Labs.
The thesis is composed of three articles. Each article focuses on a different level of analysis of the knowledge and innovation dynamics of urban innovative communities. The first article is centered on the knowledge dynamics at the global level. The second article analyzes the dynamics of innovation at the local level, considering the interactions between the communities and other local actors. The third article takes a closer look on the internal dynamics within communities, by studying the collaborative practices among community insiders. The three articles taken together offer a comprehensive analysis of the different scales of innovation.
The first article argues that the cognitive proximity between members of similar but geographically distant communities, contributes to the transfer of (tacit) knowledge. These community-based “global pipelines” contribute to nurture the “local buzz” and dynamize the local processes of innovation.
The second article acknowledges the crucial role of communities outside firms as intermediaries between creative individuals and innovative formal organizations. Through a qualitative study of the communities emerging in coworking spaces in Barcelona, my research shows how the different dynamics of innovation involving community insiders and local actors (firms, citizens and governmental bodies) are interrelated through the articulation of places, spaces, projects and events.
The third article discusses the collaboration practices in localized spaces of collaboration through a study of coworking spaces in Barcelona, following an inductive and qualitative approach. Three types of collaboration approaches are identified: 1) cost-related collaboration, where agents are motivated in reducing their operational costs and the transaction costs related to collaboration; 2) resource-based collaboration, where agents collaborate to learn or complement their resources by integrating external resources and knowledge; and 3) relational collaboration, where actors engage in intense synergistic collaborative practices. The findings contribute to the literature on inter-organizational collaboration, and on dynamics of innovation in cities.

dynamics of innovation; inter-organizational collaboration; innovation in cities; innovation communities; coworking spaces; middleground; case study; qualitative research