Calling home-based businesses in Olfen

Currently, the ILS Dortmund is recruiting interview participants in Olfen in Münsterland, Germany. We are looking to speak to self-employed workers and business owners who work mainly from home or use their home as the base for their business in Olfen. If this is you and you are interested in taking part in the research, or if you have any questions regarding the research, please contact Cornelia Tippel.

The interviews are being conducted to investigate home-working in different housing and neighbourhood situations. Olfen, a suburban neighbourhood, will be compared with the Kreuzviertel in Dortmund, an inner city neighbourhood, where interviews have already been conducted.



We work with the OECD

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Home-based businesses have different needs than ‘traditional’ businesses in commercial premises and this is why policy makers need to know about them. The Local Economic and Employment Development Programme (LEED) in the Centre for Entrepreneurship, SMEs and Local Development at the OECD, Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development, is therefore interested in our research. In particular, the LEED team at the OECD recognises the relevance of linking home-based business to their programmes on Inclusive Entrepreneurship and their goal to achieve both increased productivity and social inclusion.

In April and May 2017 Markieta Domecka worked for six weeks with the LEED team at OECD in Paris. Key targets of our collaborative impact work are the writing up of a policy brief highlighting the policy issues in relation to home-based businesses including showcasing some successful policies. The brief will be the basis for a policy seminar, at OECD in Paris on 4 October 2017, where we will discuss with local and national policy makers the special needs of home-based businesses and how their growth and productivity can be fostered.

Markieta contacted representatives from local and national government across the OECD member states via email, phone and face-to-face at various OECD events. We were not surprised that home-based businesses per se rarely are a target of national policies as they are not considered to be a distinct category of entrepreneurship. However, and again not surprisingly, a number of policies exist that support microenterprises, start-ups, solo entrepreneurs and self-employed, most of which are home-based workers and businesses. Thus, while home-based businesses are not targeted by national policies specifically, there do exist relevant policies that are useful to promote home-based business growth and their productivity. This highlights the crosscutting nature of home-based business, where economic policies and social and housing policies come together.

Relevant programmes include: networking and training opportunities, business incubators, home-office installation for people with disabilities, support for family care for women entrepreneurs, tax deduction for using a part of home as an office, access to crowd-sourced equity funding, and innovative start-up programmes. Such policies often overlap with inclusive entrepreneurship programmes targeting underrepresented groups in entrepreneurship, primarily young, women, migrants, long-time unemployed and people with disabilities.

Home-based businesses appear to be more directly targeted on the local level. Markieta contacted municipalities across Europe and discovered that there are various initiatives supporting home-based businesses, particularly co-working spaces that are not only located in city centres but also in residential areas. Some combine training and network opportunities with childcare facilities. Most first tier cities provide public grants for training, coworking spaces and incubation services. These are relevant for home-based businesses as many have a low productivity because of their micro nature and the social isolation often felt in the home.

We thank the UK Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC) for funding our impact work through an Impact Acceleration Accounts grant. We are grateful to Jonathan Potter, David Halabisky and Sandra Hannig at the OECD LEED for working with us to bring home-based businesses on the policy agenda of local and national governments. We also thank Jon, David and Sandra for their warm welcome, support, knowledge-sharing and stimulating discussions we had at OECD.


Interviews with home-based self-employed people in Dortmund-Kreuzviertel

7_may_blog2Currently, Cornelia Tippel is conducting semi-structured interviews with home-based self-employed people in the Kreuzviertel in Dortmund, Germany. The interviews examine the motivations for home-based self-employment and how people use and shape their home-working spaces, as well as their everyday (work) practices. The interview participants are also invited to take pictures of their home-working spaces and share them with the researchers.

In the course of the interviews, Cornelia has spoken to people from a broad range of different professions, including scene builders, therapists, masseuses, IT consultants, artists, office services or founders of digital enterprises. Accordingly, their home-working spaces are very heterogeneous. Some of them work just with a notebook in different places of their home while others have a fully equipped separate room for working.

The interviews have been conducted to analyse social and economic motivations for home-based self-employment, neighbourhood relations and residential choices of these people and transitions of the home-working spaces in relation to work and life. As part of the broader WORKANDHOME project, similar interviews will be conducted in cities in the UK.



Seminar on homeworking and coworking, Cass Business School, London

On February 25th, Annabelle Wilkins presented her research on homeworking and coworking at a seminar hosted by the Research Group on Collaborative Spaces (RGCS). The presentation took place at Cass Business School, and the audience included practitioners and academics interested in collaborative spaces, organisational studies, management and economic geography.

During the seminar, Annabelle positioned coworking in relation to broader increases in homeworking and freelance work, as well as linking the research with literature on coworking, innovation and economic diversity in cities. She discussed some of her key findings on different models of home-based coworking, highlighting the social and economic motivations of the Cohome and Hoffice networks and the importance of the neighbourhood in developing coworking communities.

Discussions after the presentation provided helpful suggestions on how to theorise coworking in relation to freelance work – particularly in terms of space-time relationships, the ways in which workers navigate between different work spaces and communities (digitally and physically located) and how coworking might help people to manage transitions in their work and life.

The slides from the presentation are available here.

New paper: City economies and microbusiness growth

Darja Reuschke has a new paper on city economies and microbusiness growth, published in Urban Studies (online before print):

This paper assesses the influence of city location and running a business from home on microbusiness growth, based on empirical analysis of panel firm-level data over a four-year period. The analysis reveals that cities provide benefits to microbusinesses for turnover growth but not for employment growth – suggesting that the additional growth induced by cities for microbusinesses may be jobless growth. However, in the case of microbusinesses run from the owner’s home, cities facilitate growth into medium-sized businesses. The paper concludes that microbusinesses, including those run from business owners’ homes, are integral to the evolution and dynamics of urban economies and essential to understanding the nature of growth in cities.


Work and Workplace Transformations: Between Communities, Doing, and Entrepreneurship

On 16th December 2016, Annabelle Wilkins participated in the 2016 Symposium of the Research Group on Collaborative Spaces (RGCS) at the emlyon campus in Paris.

The symposium on Work and Workplace Transformations brought together academics and practitioners interested in work and workplace transformations, in particular at the level of collaborative communities and social movements. Participants discussed the collaborative potential of coworking, makerspaces, hacktivism and the sharing economy, presenting research on a diverse range of subjects and from interdisciplinary perspectives.

In his opening keynote, Dr Bastian Lange proposed makerspaces as arenas for new forms of value creation and the co-production of knowledge.

The academic programme included parallel sessions on new forms of collaborative workspace, the politics of coworking and the ways in which members perceive and appropriate coworking spaces. Presenters discussed the extent to which coworking can empower precarious freelance workers and the potential for collaborative movements to contribute to cities and neighbourhoods. Other presentations discussed new forms of collaborative space, digital platforms and the diverse meanings of the ‘sharing economy’.

In the afternoon session, participants embarked upon a ‘scavenger hunt’, in which we explored a number of coworking spaces and makerspaces in Paris. Other participants came together to design the collaborative ‘third space’ of the future.

Keynote speeches and pictures taken by participants can be accessed on the RGCS Youtube channel

Visiting Greenspace coworking space, Paris
Visiting Sensespace, a venue for collaborative work, education and experimentation in Paris.
Professor Francois-Xavier Devaujany introduces the symposium

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Launch of the Centre for Inclusive and Sustainable Entrepreneurship and Innovation

On 7th November 2016, Markieta Domecka and Annabelle Wilkins attended the launch of the Centre for Inclusive and Sustainable Entrepreneurship and Innovation (CISEI). Based within Southampton Business School, CISEI undertakes research on socially inclusive and sustainable entrepreneurship and innovation. It engages with stakeholders from the business, social entrepreneurship and academic sectors in order to empower individuals and organisations to tackle critical equality, diversity and sustainability challenges.

Following a welcome from Professor Martin Broad and introduction from Professor Mine Karatas-Ozkan, the keynote speech was given by Professor Johanna Mair of Stanford University, who presented theoretical and empirical insights from her long-term research on innovation and scaling for impact from an organisational perspective.

Johanna’s presentation was followed by a panel discussion on a range of issues relating to sustainable and inclusive entrepreneurship. Professor Mustafa Ozbilgin presented on sustainability, equality and diversity at work from a comparative perspective. Dr Haya Al-Dajani presented longitudinal research on entrepreneurship among refugee women in Jordan, reflecting upon entrepreneurship as a source of emancipation and empowerment. Finally, Professor Jonatan Pinkse discussed the unintended consequences that can arise in pursuing the interdependent goals of sustainability and inclusivity, presenting business models that aim to recognise these tensions and develop strategies to manage them.

We look forward to collaborating with CISEI in the future and wish them every success in their research and engagement activities.

Call for participants – Factories of the Future: Digital Platforms for Innovation and Collaboration

The Digital Workplace for Innovation and Participation project (DigiWIP) is looking for experts in business finance, open innovation, entrepreneurship and business policy to discuss existing and future web-based platforms for innovation and collaboration.

DigiWIP asks how existing digital platforms can be redesigned to enable new ways of working and collaboration between enterprises and individuals, encouraging innovation and participation building towards a new vision for ‘Factories of the Future’. The key objective is to find ways to capitalise on digital platforms driving societal and economic benefits.

We are an interdisciplinary research team from the University of Southampton Department of Geography and Environment, Southampton Business School and the IT Innovation Centre.

The expert discussion will take place on one of these dates:
Tues 24th Jan, Wed 25th Jan or Thurs 26th Jan.

Please contact Dr Markieta Domecka for further information.

The Midlands Intelligent Mobility Conference

On 30th November Ana Basiri attended the Midlands Intelligent Mobility Conference at Loughborough University. This conference brought together industry, government and academic sectors to review the strategies, challenges and opportunities of making transport services in the UK more intelligent, adaptive, personalised, automated and environmentally friendly. The conference placed travellers and commuters at the heart of the transport system and discussed the challenges of user-centric mobility services.

Since many of our daily journeys are to or from work, the WORKANDHOME project studies how working from home can contribute to the reshaping of urban planning in the future. In this regard, Professor Margaret Bell (CBE) of Newcastle University gave an interesting talk on the impact of reducing the number of trips, particularly long journeys, on the emission of carbon dioxide and other pollutants. She explained that even the replacement of all cars with electric cars would not make it possible to hit the target that the UK has committed to by 2050, and the number of journeys needs to be reduced. From this perspective, it seems that working from home could be viewed not only as an alternative for business but also as a necessary approach for saving the environment.