Dissertation/Thesis Abstract

Narratives of Ingenuity: Using Coworking Space Stories to See Systems Change
by Rosencrans, Kendra, Ph.D., Saybrook University, 2019, 184; 13898081
Abstract (Summary)

Researchers of organizational systems have long been interested in understanding how stories and narratives influence cultural and social system change. Coworking is a story-rich phenomenon that has emerged as a new way of organizing physical, cultural, and social systems for work. This qualitative narrative analysis introduces the term “narratives of ingenuity” into the literature. Narratives of ingenuity are defined as storylines, concepts, ideas, phrases, and metaphors about people working together using unconventional creativity and imagination to navigate institutional constraints and resource limits to develop solutions that are a better fit for the people, resources, and problems in their contexts. This transdisciplinary qualitative study contributes to the literature on organizational systems, coworking, and organizational ingenuity.

This study analyzed 150 blogs and other public, digital stories published by and about three novel coworking spaces in Seattle, Washington. The founders of these coworking spaces have articulated aspirations to create social and economic change. The founding stories of the coworking organizations reflect and reveal how founders see and are organizing coworking spaces differently. The narratives of ingenuity emplotted show how founders make sense of coworking as an organizational model that can be adapted contextually to challenge biases and assumptions in existing organizational systems, circumvent constraints, attract resources, and influence social change.

As a small study, the findings are not generalizable. The findings suggest that blogs and other public, digital stories within the coworking phenomenon reveal a pattern of narrative sense-making among coworking space founders and their organizations. Systems change can be seen through the stories as founders enact new responses to entrenched problems in traditional social and economic systems, including bias and discrimination, and a desire to solve these problems with a different imagination. Future research is needed to explore the narrative patterns of coworking spaces as public sense-making stories about systemic problems and the need for inventive, positive, and generative change. Future studies could further examine the emergence of coworking spaces that are creating places and cultures for work in response to entrenched social and economic beliefs, biases, and practices that exclude, marginalize and penalize, and foster people based on race, gender, and biology.

Indexing (document details)
Advisor: Southern, Nancy
Commitee: Piazza, Charles, Metcalf, Gary
School: Saybrook University
Department: Organizational Systems
School Location: United States -- California
Source: DAI-A 81/2(E), Dissertation Abstracts International
Subjects: Organization Theory, Systems science, Organizational behavior
Keywords: Coworking, Innovation, Narrative, Organizational ingenuity, Sense-making, Systemic change
Publication Number: 13898081
ISBN: 9781085610377
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