March 06, 2023
4.15 - 5.45 pm
DOYENS 21 (LLN) and salle n°1 bâtiment A (Mons)
From pollination space to place to be(e): Mission transformation and spatial repurposing at a French social entrepreneurship coworking space
Social-purpose organizations, i.e., organizations pursuing a social purpose as their core mission, face the challenge of maintaining their mission over time and avoiding “mission drift”. However, prior research on mission evolution has predominantly focused on formal organizations, neglecting different, less formalized forms of organizing such as “collective spaces” – i.e., temporary physical spaces where people from different backgrounds gather to carry on individual and collective activities with little or no hierarchical or pre-existing relationships. Our research explores how spatial dynamics within a collective space affect the evolution of the social mission that the space was intended to fulfil at founding. To address this question, we conducted a longitudinal qualitative case study of La Ruche (“the Beehive”), a pioneer coworking space dedicated to diffusing social entrepreneurship in France,over a 15-year period (2007-2022). Our findings document how the founding mission was gradually transformed into a new one that was directly grafted onto the collective space itself. By so doing, the space anchored the trajectory of mission evolution and gradually turned into a “place”. To explain such mission transformation, we highlight the role of “spatial repurposing”, i.e., the development of spatial dynamics leading to reinterpreting the founding mission and embedding it within the collective space. These findings contribute to the literatures on mission evolution and collective space.