Recently, the rapid global rise in co-working spaces and shared workspaces has sparked a re-emergence of the clustering debate. Similar to the presumed innovative potential of (creative) clusters, such spaces are assumed to possess the power contribute to their users’ innovativeness. This paper explores whether and how co-working and co-location could stimulate interactions and collaborations that potentially foster innovation in the creative industries. By building upon 46 interviews with Dutch co-located creative entrepreneurs and workplace managers, we argue that agglomeration economies are rarely of an economic (or radical innovative) nature. However, co-working members socially benefit from reduced transaction costs, buzz and the exchange of (tacit) knowledge. Especially, we contend that through physical proximity and play, networks of surrogate collegiality can emerge. Such networks are vital in bridging the transition from creative and arts education to the development of a professional, entrepreneurial skill set, providing a fertile ground for potential innovative prospects. Nevertheless, as outlined by some of the critical approaches to clustering theory, proximity alone has not been a sufficient condition for collaboration and innovation. On the contrary, the conjunction of the professional and private sphere can be challenging for creative workers. Interpersonal frictions, rivalry and mismatching cultures of work have been issues that could be addressed by workplace managers.

Agglomeration, Co-working spaces, Collegiality, Creative clusters, Innovation, Tacit knowledge,
Department of Media and Communication

Wijngaarden, Y.G.D, Hitters, H.J.C.J, & Bhansing, P.V. (2020). Cultivating fertile learning grounds: Collegiality, tacit knowledge and innovation in creative co-working spaces. Geoforum. doi:10.1016/j.geoforum.2020.01.005