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The social economy of coworking spaces: a focal point model of coordination

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Coworking spaces are a rapid growing feature of modern cities, and increasingly popular with freelancers, knowledge workers, start-up communities, and others engaged in non-standard creative urban work. Drawing on ethnographic data gathered in a large case study of coworking spaces in Australia, we develop an economic model of an important aspect of coworking spaces in which a coworking space is a Schelling point. This argues that the main margin of value a coworking space provides is not price competition with serviced offices, or a more pleasant environment than working at home, but as a focal (Schelling) point for finding people, ideas and other resources when you lack the information necessary for coordination. Drawing on ethnographic research, we test some specific predictions the model makes about the organizational and institutional form of successful coworking spaces.
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Keywords: Coworking; D02; D83; L85; R3; Z13; coordination problems; ethnography; focal points; real estate business models

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: 1: School of Management, RMIT University, Melbourne, Australia 2: School of Economics, Finance & Marketing, RMIT University, Melbourne, Australia

Publication date: October 2, 2017

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