Publication Date


Document Type





Business Administration, Management, and Operations | Technology and Innovation

Publication Title

European Journal of Innovation Management


This study investigates the role of collaborative spaces as organizational support for internal innovation through cross-functional teams and for open innovation with external stakeholders. In particular, the study focuses on collaborative spaces as tools for multiplex (i.e., simultaneous internal and external boundary management in innovation projects).

The authors conducted a qualitative study in a multi-divisional organization that set up in its headquarters a collaborative space for collaborative product development. Data were collected through semi-structured interviews and participant observations.

Findings highlight that the relation between expectations and experiences about the collaborative space impact on employees' ability to perform boundary work inside and outside the organization. In addition to the collaborative space's affording role for expectations about hands-on collaborative innovation (space as laboratory), the study also highlights a set of collaboration constraints. These latter are generated by perceived boundary configurations (i.e. degree of boundary permeability and infrastructure in internal and external collaborations) and by discrepancies between expectations (space as laboratory) and actual collaboration experiences in the space (i.e. space as maze, cloister, showcase and silo). We show that space-generated constraints slow down internal and external boundary work for innovation and generate a trade-off between them.

Using the process-based perspective of boundary work, the paper connects studies on cross-functional teaming and open innovation through the concept of “multiplex boundary work.” It also contributes to the literature on boundary work by showing the challenges of using collaborative spaces as organizational support tools for multiplex boundary spanning.


Open innovation, Relational capabilities, Boundary work, Collaborative spaces, Boundary objects


This author accepted manuscript is deposited under a Creative Commons Attribution Non-commercial 4.0 International (CC BY-NC) licence. This means that anyone may distribute, adapt, and build upon the work for non-commercial purposes, subject to full attribution. If you wish to use this manuscript for commercial purposes, please contact

SJSU users: Use the following link to login and access the article via SJSU databases.

Creative Commons License

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial 4.0 License