Spaces for innovation

University dissertation from Eskilstuna : Mälardalen University

Abstract: Workspace design, as an enabling factor in innovation, is an emerging topic for innovation and design research. However, little research has been done on users’ experience on workspaces for innovation in a manufacturing industrial context. The aim of the dissertation is to develop knowledge and understanding of workspaces for innovation from a user perspective.The dissertation is based on studies done in four manufacturing industries and in one design and innovation consultancy, with a focus on the employees' experience of the physical space in relation to innovation. The research method used was the photo elicitation interview. The 31 participants made photographs that served as a basis for verbal interviews to communicate the relationship they experienced between their workspace and innovation. The analysis and the interpretation of the material, supported by information, cultural and phenomenological theoretical perspectives, intend to contribute to the current scientific discourse in innovation and design.A pattern was found in the results. In the manufacturing industrial companies, the majority of workspaces that users described as supporting or hindering innovation were motifs showing aculture promoting innovation in small steps. Their examples were found to be in close similarity to what previous research describe as characteristics of exploitative innovation. In the design company, the most photographed motifs were workspaces and objects that supported different variations of what previousresearch defines as characteristics for a culture supporting radical, explorative innovation.The dissertation presents results contributing to the research on ambidexterity, with focus on a possible coexistence between different innovation cultures. The results indicate that spatial differentiation creates possibilities for coexistence between the two innovation cultures. Six spatial characteristics were found in the descriptions of the workspaces related to the marginalised explorative culture in the manufacturing companies.The dissertation discusses the possibilities of creating spaces for explorative innovation (SEIs) and space as a tool for innovation. An initial version of a support for design is presented.