Collaborative Work

Our study focuses on the analysis of collaborative collective actions in working environments, with a particular interest in those actions that promote and encourage collaborative work linked to non-profit purposes. In a large part of the cooperative movement we can find this type of work, especially in cooperatives that are related to the social and solidarity economy sector. In recent years, these collaborative actions have acquired greater relevance and visibility as a result of the employment crisis and the structural precariousness in which we find ourselves. These experiences are closely linked to the rhetoric of entrepreneurship and social innovation, presenting themselves, with increasing force, as an alternative to alleviate the negative effects of the uncertainty of employment and the progressive individualization of work and labour relations.

We pay special attention to cases in which beyond working in shared spaces —known as coworking— a type of collaborative work is generated that presents an added value not only for its members but also for the local communities in which they are based. To this end, we have compiled information on different models of collaborative work from coworking spaces that act rooted in the metaphor of network growth: seedbeds/incubators/nurseries/accelerators of companies and associated work cooperatives, among others. We have followed some of them in the Basque Country and in Catalonia, mainly those whose objective is the generation of common projects not subject to a mercantile logic, many of them linked to the creation of community and the search for community-based social impact. More specifically, we have delved into the case of a “laboratory of collaborative practices” in the city of Bilbao due to its experimental and reflexive character around its practices. As a paradigmatic case, it serves us to ask ourselves: Under what conditions does collaboration take place in shared work environments? What does collaborative work consist of? What objectives and effects does collaborative work seek in these cases?

Researchers: Joseba García Martín & Elsa Santamaría.