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Julie Fabbri PhD defense

Coworking spaces for entrepreneurs. New workspaces and interorganisational collaborative dynamics

Thesis to be defended on the 21st of October at 2:00pm and it will take place in the auditorium R112 - ENSTA Building.


Thèse de doctorat ès sciences de gestion soutenue le 21 octobre à 14h, en amphi R112 - Bâtiment ENSTA. - See more at: https://portail.polytechnique.edu/i3_crg/fr/soutenance-de-julie-fabbri#s...

This thesis aims to describe work situations allowed by coworking spaces and to characterize their functioning. It results from the encounter between, on the one hand, the recent field of spatial turn, emerging in the management and organizational literature, and on the other hand, the important empirical phenomenon around the development of these new multi-company workspaces.

We use a comprehensive approach to understand the extent to which, and the manner in which, coworking spaces can support the development of companies they host. This work is based on a qualitative fieldwork, using an exploratory and inductive approach. The main case study focuses on La Ruche, one of the first French coworking spaces, reserved for social entrepreneurs. The second study compares La Ruche with two other coworking spaces, Creatis and Numa, respectively hosting cultural entrepreneurs and digital entrepreneurs. This second study analysis the original location strategy of a small communication agency, Opinion Valley, located consecutively in these three Parisian coworking spaces over a period of 18 months.

We define coworking spaces as physical multi-company workspaces, favourable for organizational learning situations, for interorganizational collaboration dynamics and for the development of innovative offers. We show that the membership in a coworking space enhances the credibility of its members and facilitates their access to partners and external stakeholders thanks to a label and a showcase effect. Based on three standard events, we differentiate three learning situations: stimulating the transmission of pre-existing knowledge, creating new knowledge from a collective work on a problem, and constructing shared knowledge from the combination of knowledge held by different members.

Finally, this thesis is the source of three major contributions of showing that coworking spaces act as intermediaries for open innovation and foster the emergence of entrepreneurial communities of practice, based on four modes of specific interaction. The originality of this work consists of mobilizing various theoretical insights, of being situated at an inter-organisational level of analysis, of adopting the perspective of small businesses, and this in conjunction with a spatial anchorage.


Didier Chabaud Professeur, Université d’Avignon et des Pays de Vaucluse, Président de l’Académie de l’Entrepreneuriat et de l’Innovation rapporteur
François-Xavier de Vaujany Professeur, Université Paris-Dauphine rapporteur
Hervé Laroche Professeur, ESCP Europe examinateur
Emmanuelle Vaast, Associate Professor, Desautels Faculty of Management of McGill University (Canada) examinateur
Paul Duguid Adjunct Professor, UC Berkeley School of Information (US) examinateur
Florence Charue-Duboc Directeur de recherche au CNRS – i3 CRG, Professeur à l’École polytechnique directeur de thèse