Organisational Decline and the Failure in Alternative Organising: The Case of a Coworking Cooperative

Eeva Houtbeckers*, Maja Korica

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapterScientific


The decline of established alternative organisations, such as co-working spaces, remains understudied. In this paper, we introduce the results of a longitudinal ethnography of a Finnish coworking space, ‘The Community’, established in late 2000s. The chapter explores how its volunteers, managers, and users related to The Community’s gradual decline, and finally its bankruptcy in 2014, and what broader lessons we might take from this account. The Community as a case relates to a larger on-going discussion regarding how we might do things differently in the times of contemporary capitalism. Part of the empirical answer lies in the very nature of The Community. Despite its organising principles, its aims to maintain a space of value-based alterity were based on similar working practices to those that they originally aimed to challenge. Three key themes echoed the critical steps in the Community’s decline: (i) ‘The Community way’ of doing things (‘defining the utopic alternative’); (ii) socio-material processes when working in the space (‘work of mundane maintenance’); and (iii) working conditions (‘emergence of functional imperatives’).
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationCoworking Spaces : Alternative Topologies and Transformative Potentials
EditorsJanet Merkel, Dimitris Pettas, Vasilis Avdikos
Place of PublicationCham
Number of pages15
ISBN (Electronic)978-3-031-42268-3
ISBN (Print)978-3-031-42267-6, 978-3-031-42270-6
Publication statusPublished - 8 Nov 2023
MoE publication typeB2 Book section


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