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Track 2.1 - Fab Labs, Makerspaces and Coworking spaces as sites of innovation

Julie FABBRI, Assistant Professor, EM Lyon business school, 
Andreea GORBATAI, Assistant Professor, Berkeley University, 
Albane GRANDAZZI, PhD Paris-Dauphine University 

Track's Contacts : 


Within the past decade we’ve witnessed unprecedented changes in the nature of leisure and work. Most significantly, the proliferation of online social media platforms and marketplaces such as YouTube, Facebook, Instagram, and Etsy has led to the emergence of social media based entrepreneurs and has allowed people to share, and, respectively access vast amounts of knowledge all around the globe. One of the consequences of this access has been the diffusion of practices, ranging from cultural art forms such as music and dance styles to practical tutorials demonstrating a wide range of how-to’s, from home repairs to crafts to innovative designs. In parallel, the move towards the sharing economy has led many people to seek entrepreneurial venues for their skills. Despite these developments, interactions in physical space remain central to everyday experience. One novel site of such interactions is represented by physical locations for work such as fab labs, makerspaces and coworking spaces. These novel organizational forms vary wildly in terms of structure and content, but, generally speaking, coworking spaces often host small firms and solo entrepreneurs and prospective entrepreneurs, providing access to a business service infrastructure, while fab labs and makerspaces offer more material support for hobbyists and entrepreneurs, such as 3D printers, welding, and carpentry tools. From an academic perspective this topic raises questions about the role of these spaces in generating and diffusing innovation, the importance of space structure and norms in the emergence of entrepreneurial ventures, the network of relationships between different spaces and locations, and the place of these new organizational forms in the business ecosystem and urban life. Accordingly we seek to shed light on these areas, calling for theoretical and empirical studies that may expand and stimulate existing knowledge and debates about the role of these spaces, as well as highlight challenges and opportunities for innovation scholars and practitioners alike.