Space for Innovation: Effects of Space on Innovation Processes in Basic Science and Research Settings

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Title: Space for Innovation: Effects of Space on Innovation Processes in Basic Science and Research Settings
Author: Toker, Umut
Advisors: PERVER K. BARAN, Committee Member
FATIH A. RIFKI, Committee Member
DENIS O. GRAY, Committee Member
HENRY SANOFF, Committee Chair
Abstract: In an era of fast-paced technological developments, innovation processes are critical for the evolution of societies through developing new technologies. University research centers are among the settings in which innovation processes take place. The numbers of university research centers and the workspaces provided for them have increased significantly in the second half of twentieth century. Innovation research has indicated that information consumption is the major resource for facilitating innovation. Among various information resources used for information consumption, face-to-face technical consultations are the most important information resources. Research in design disciplines has shown that spatial organization of workspaces can affect human encounters. However, how the spatial organization of workspaces in university research centers influence encounters among researchers and therefore innovation process outcomes have not been studied. This study is an inquiry into the effects of spatial organization on innovation process outcomes. Within a multiple case study research design, six university research centers were selected to study the relationships between the spaces occupied, information consumption indicators, and innovation process outcomes. An activity log and a follow-up survey were the instruments used for data collection. The results of the study indicated that the spatial organization of university research centers significantly affected patterns of space use for face-to-face technical consultation, technical consultation networks, information consumption patterns, and innovation process outcomes. Unprogrammed encounters among researchers were the highest utilized type of technical consultations. Configurational accessibility of spaces, shorter walking distances and informal common spaces facilitated unprogrammed encounters among researchers in the six selected university research centers. University research centers that had intact territories with shorter walking distances had more connective technical consultation networks, in which researchers consulted with more colleagues, and reported more innovation process outcomes. Findings indicated that spatial organization affects face-to-face technical consultations and innovation process outcomes in university research centers, and that planning of these workspaces needs to be based on work processes that facilitate face-to-face technical consultations in order to facilitate innovation.
Date: 2004-04-18
Degree: PhD
Discipline: Design

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