Conference Agenda

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Session Overview
19-AM-01: ST2.1 - Fab Labs, Makerspaces and Coworking Spaces as Sites of Innovation
Wednesday, 19/June/2019:
8:30am - 10:00am

Session Chair: Julie Fabbri, emlyon business school
Session Chair: Andreea Gorbatai, University of California at Berkeley
Session Chair: Albane Grandazzi, CRG-i3 Ecole Polytechnique
Location: Amphi Becquerel

Session Abstract

Within the past decade we’ve witnessed unprecedented changes in the nature of leisure and work. Most significantly, the proliferation of online social media platforms and marketplaces such as YouTube, Facebook, Instagram, and Etsy has led to the emergence of social media based entrepreneurs and has allowed people to share, and, respectively access vast amounts of knowledge all around the globe. One of the consequences of this access has been the diffusion of practices, ranging from cultural art forms such as music and dance styles to practical tutorials demonstrating a wide range of how-to’s, from home repairs to crafts to innovative designs. In parallel, the move towards the sharing economy has led many people to seek entrepreneurial venues for their skills. Despite these developments, interactions in physical space remain central to everyday experience. One novel site of such interactions is represented by physical locations for work such as fab labs, makerspaces and coworking spaces. These novel organizational forms vary wildly in terms of structure and content, but, generally speaking, coworking spaces often host small firms and solo entrepreneurs and prospective entrepreneurs, providing access to a business service infrastructure, while fab labs and makerspaces offer more material support for hobbyists and entrepreneurs, such as 3D printers, welding, and carpentry tools. From an academic perspective this topic raises questions about the role of these spaces in generating and diffusing innovation, the importance of space structure and norms in the emergence of entrepreneurial ventures, the network of relationships between different spaces and locations, and the place of these new organizational forms in the business ecosystem and urban life. Accordingly we seek to shed light on these areas, calling for theoretical and empirical studies that may expand and stimulate existing knowledge and debates about the role of these spaces, as well as highlight challenges and opportunities for innovation scholars and practitioners alike.

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The influence of localized spaces of collaborative innovation in Brazilian small businesses

Guilherme Freitas Camboim1,2, Rafael Toassi Crispim1,2, Paulo Antonio Zawislak1,2

1Federal University of Rio Grande do Sul (UFRGS), Brazil; 2Innovation Research Center (NITEC), Brazil


Given the high levels of complexity and the increasing organization costs, firms are not able to produce solutions exclusively in-house. Firms, especially small ones, must have to transcend their boundaries and collaborate with other agents to achieve better outcomes. To overcome inherently issues of open innovation practices, they use intermediaries.


The collective innovation practices offered by intermediaries often imply the existence of physical spaces that allow the gathering of stakeholders to share the use of physical assets and to facilitate knowledge transfer. These spaces, called localized spaces of collaborative innovation (LSCI) or collaborative spaces, should reduce problems related to search for external knowledge, because they provide proximity advantages and a value proposition that foster the “learning by doing” (Capdevila, 2017; Felin and Zenger, 2014; Lopez- Vega, Tell and Vanhaverbeke, 2016). Besides that, these spaces can represent a key element in the innovation ecosystem of cities, being places where knowledge communities meet to collectively innovate by bridging individual’s creativity and firms’ innovation. The establishment of an intermediated network model not only helps firms to innovate, but also boosts the interaction among stakeholders to develop solutions for local problems in a quadruple helix approach (Lee et al., 2010).

Literature Gap

There is a lack of empirical studies that evidence what really motivate small businesses to collaborate with different stakeholders and how it effectively occurs, especially in emergent countries, where openness is not an ordinary practice.

Research Questions

How does collaborative spaces influence the open innovation process of small businesses located in an emerging country?


A multiple case study comprising five collaborative spaces located in a southern city in Brazil was carried out. The selection of case studies was based on (a) their different business models and value creation drivers; (b) the city’s industrial setting focused on creative economy and IT sector; (c) geographic proximity to authors' research center. Then, it was realized interviews with space owners during the months of June and December in 2018. The interviews were based on a semi-structured questionnaire with questions related to the business model, mechanisms for knowledge sharing, establishment of partnerships and the nature of interactions between users.

Empirical Material

The five cases comprises a private fab lab, a university fab lab, a private makerspace and two coworking spaces were selected. Living labs making any kind of intermediation with companies were not present in the city. We performed a qualitative content analysis of each transcribed interview, in which the important statements were related to the question we made and codified into categories. Then, these categories were crossed with other results showed in the literature to analyze commonalities and differences with other experiences around the world. This step provided information about the intermediation role of these collaborative spaces in the innovation process.


Collaborative spaces have different intermediation roles and business models, which influence different stages of innovation process of small businesses. Considering the business models, only coworking has a more economic focus. Both fab labs and makerspace operate at break-even point. Related to intermediation roles, while coworking spaces and makerspace act as open incubators providing shared facilities, tools and networking, fab labs act as mediators when interacting with firms stimulating the collaboration among users to create, prototype and test new products. Fab labs and makerspace are configured to support small businesses in the earlier stages of their innovation processes, while coworking spaces are configured to support the latter stages of innovation process. Actually, the evidences provided by the interviewees indicate that coworking has become much more a low-cost office than a space for collaborative innovation.

Contribution to Scholarship

We contribute to the literature of collaborative spaces and open innovation in cities and regional contexts. Specially on emergent countries cases, besides sharing facilities and reducing fixed costs for young firms or entrepreneurs, those spaces need to gather different stakeholders that their client/users could mutually benefit of knowledge sharing, asset leveraging, or product/service co-producing. That way, firms would have access to a higher value network of agents to bring innovation to market. It seems clear that collaborative spaces located in emergent economies should target becoming actually living labs.

Contribution to Practice

We highlight some elements that collaborative spaces should implement to improve the innovative performance of firms. With the exception of the university fab lab (FL 2), these spaces do not present a scientific-technological basis, which would help in the R&D activities of their users. We suggest for these spaces the establishment of partnerships with Science and Technology (S&T) institutions to enhance the knowledge base of their firms. Specifically, to coworking spaces, it is important to stimulate the interaction between their residents to jointly develop better businesses.


This study helps advance the body of knowledge regarding relevant actors that help bridge research, industry and society to solve localized problems: collaborative spaces. It concerns an emergent country context, which enhances a global perspective of the conference’s discussions.


Capdevila, I. (2017). A typology of localized spaces of collaborative innovation. Entrepreneurial Neighbourhoods. Cheltenham: Edward Elgar Publishing, 80-97.

Chesbrough, H.W. (2003), Open Innovation: The New Imperative for Creating and Profiting from Technology, Boston MA: Harvard Business Press.

Chesbrough, H.W. (2006), Open Business Models: How to Thrive in the New Innovation Landscape, Boston MA: Harvard Business School Press.

Felin, T., & Zenger, T. R. (2014). Closed or open innovation? Problem solving and the governance choice. Research Policy, 43(5), 914-925.

Huizingh, E. K. (2011). Open innovation: State of the art and future perspectives. Technovation, 31(1), 2-9.

Lee, S., Park, G., Yoon, B., & Park, J. (2010). Open Innovation in SMEs – An Intermediated Network Model, Research Policy, 39(2), 290–300.

Lopez-Vega, H., Tell, F., & Vanhaverbeke, W. (2016). Where and how to search? Search paths in open innovation. Research Policy, 45(1), 125-136

Lopez-Vega, H., & Vanhaverbeke, W. (2009). Connecting open and closed innovation markets: A typology of intermediaries.

West, J., & Bogers, M. (2014). Leveraging external sources of innovation: a review of research on open innovation. Journal of Product Innovation Management, 31(4), 814-831.

West, J., Salter, A., Vanhaverbeke, W., & Chesbrough, H. (2014). Open innovation: The next decade.

Governance evolution of an emergent and rapidly network: a longitudinal study of the coordination mechanisms developed in the FabLab network.

Constance Garnier

Telecom ParisTech, France


FabLabs, are emblematic figures of the new collaborative innovation spaces (Fabbri et al., 2016) that aim to democratize personal digital manufacturing. These emergent organizations are in turn structured in an international network. Initiated in 2003, the later has since experienced rapid and continuous growth, it has over 1300 members in early 2019.


Recent studies have provided a better understanding of fablabs on an international scale: about their business models (Santos, Murmura, et Bravi 2018)or their roles in different local ecosystems (Suire 2018). However, there is limited knowledge of how the network operates. Previous work that aimed at clarifying the structure of inter-organizational collaborations reveals a major tension between autonomy and constraint and thus highlights the importance of understanding how these dynamics are established and evolve(Berkowitz et Dumez 2016). The study of the governance of the "network as a whole" appears essential for a better comprehension of these configurations (Provan, Fish, et Sydow 2007). While some authors study governance through social mechanisms (Jones, Hesterly, et Borgatti 1997), others call for a multifactorial approach focused on coordination mechanisms (Provan et Kenis 2008).

Literature Gap

While extensive, the literature on network governance tells us little about the evolution of governance modes in the context of rapidly-growing and emerging networks. In addition, the study of networks is primarily focused on the governance of corporate networks, but that of new collaborative spaces (such as FabLabs) remains unexplored.

Research Questions

In which ways the governance of an emerging and expanding network is established and how it evolves? Our work focuses mainly on the evolution of coordination mechanisms and is based in particular on the analytical framework elaborated by Provan and Kenis (2008).


This qualitative and exploratory research addresses this question through a unique and descriptive case study of the international FabLabs network. It follows a longitudinal approach of network dynamics (Ahuja, Soda, et Zaheer 2012)that combines retrospective and current-time perspective.

Empirical Material

The longitudinal approach requires the cross-referencing of various data from different sources. The data are the result of an ongoing research process and are based on a collection combining several qualitative methods (interviews, participant observation, secondary data) and a quantitative study (international survey with n=70 answers and a response rate of 16%). The main material comes from the interviews: three series were conducted (in 2014, 2017 and 2018) with targeted individuals (29 FabLab’s managers and 11 headend of the network). 5 persons where interviewed at different point of time. The total corpus comprises 45 interviews representing 30 countries


Using Provan and Kenis' analytical framework, 5 phases of network development are identified with regard to the evolution of its governance mechanisms and model.

As a result, this study shows that in the context of an emerging network, the strong growth in the number of members combined with weak border management can lead to a double fragmentation of the network. In the case studied it gives rise to a sub-network built around a central structure characterized by high connectivity, and the formation of a set of regional sub-networks maintaining informal relations between them and with the central structure. This exploratory study opens with research perspectives related to the combined evolution of a network and two types of sub-networks that appear within it.

Contribution to Scholarship

This study contributes to the understanding of the new organizational configurations that are fablabs through the study of the global network. Furthermore, this study also aims to contribute to the construction of the theory of network governance with the network as the analytical unit. One specific issue is to contribute to the analytical framework provided by Provan and Kenis (2008) using observations that would allow it to be completed.

Contribution to Practice

This study can provide a valuable input for the management of fast-growing networks. Given the ongoing development of Open Innovation, this study can make a contribution, particularly in terms of knowledge management in such networks.


FabLabs are innovation spaces that contribute to the renewal of manufacturing practices (re-distributed, accessible, personal, and based on peer to peer approaches) (Rayna et Striukova 2016). As such, they are at the heart of new and emerging questions about the connections between society, business and research


Ahuja, Gautam, Giuseppe Soda, et Aks Zaheer. 2012. « The Genesis and Dynamics of Organizational Networks ». Organization Science 23(2):434‑48.

Berkowitz, Héloïse et Hervé Dumez. 2016. « The Concept of Meta‐Organization: Issues for Management Studies ». European Management Review 13(2):149‑56.

Jones, Candace, William S. Hesterly, et Stephen P. Borgatti. 1997. « A General Theory of Network Governance: Exchange Conditions and Social Mechanisms ». The Academy of Management Review 22(4):911‑45.

Provan, Keith G., Amy Fish, et Joerg Sydow. 2007. « Interorganizational Networks at the Network Level: A Review of the Empirical Literature on Whole Networks ». Journal of Management 33(3):479‑516.

Provan, Keith G. et Patrick Kenis. 2008. « Modes of Network Governance: Structure, Management, and Effectiveness ». Journal of Public Administration Research and Theory 18(2):229‑52.

Rayna, Thierry et Ludmila Striukova. 2016. « From rapid prototyping to home fabrication: How 3D printing is changing business model innovation ». Technological Forecasting and Social Change 102:214‑24.

Santos, Gilberto, Federica Murmura, et Laura Bravi. 2018. « Fabrication laboratories: The development of new business models with new digital technologies ». Journal of Manufacturing Technology Management 29(8):1332‑57.

Suire, Raphaël. 2018. « Innovating by bricolage: how do firms diversify through knowledge interactions with FabLabs? » Regional Studies 0(0):1‑12.

Emerging new contexts for entrepreneurial innovation: the case of Fab-Spaces

Valeria Dammicco, Letizia Mortara

University of Cambridge, United Kingdom


A new type of organisation has emerged in recent years that could become pivotal in fostering more entrepreneurial economies: Fab-Spaces (Fabrication Spaces), community-run, physical fabrication workshops. Their innovation and production capabilities are providing a new socio-technical context for entrepreneurship and user-innovation to emerge (Browder et al., 2017;Mortara & Parisot, 2016).


The question of how and when entrepreneurs innovate is of crucial importance for a wide range of stakeholders, including governments, policy makers and society as a whole (Garud, Gehman, & Giuliani, 2014). However, little attention has been devoted to questioning how and when entrepreneurs innovate, or in other words, what are the contextual influences of entrepreneurial innovation (Autio, Kenney, Mustar, Siegel, & Wright, 2014, p. 1098).

Fab-Spaces’ innovation and production capabilities provide a unique opportunity to investigate the influences of contexts on entrepreneurial innovation emergence. However, in order to understand how Fab-Spaces can contribute to entrepreneurial innovation, we first need to understand how many types of Fab-Spaces exist. So far, a few attempts have been made to classify Fab-Spaces according to their different business models (Mortara & Parisot, 2016) or governance mechanisms (Kostakis, Niaros, & Giotitsas, 2015), showing how these new types of organisations significantly change across and within geographies.

Literature Gap

We answer the call for more contextualised entrepreneurship research (Autio et al., 2014; Welter, 2011; Zahra & Wright, 2011) and propose a new classification of Fab-Spaces as possible socio-technical contexts for entrepreneurial innovation, while trying to address the following research question:

Research Questions

How many different types of socio-technical system configurations exist in Fab-Spaces?


This has been achieved by running a hierarchical agglomerative cluster analysis based on the provision of social and technical resources offered by 65 Fab-Spaces in the UK. Each business model was classified along 25 dimensions, mainly looking at the variety of machines and courses offered by the space as well as their internal and external social network configuration (e.g. open or close). For example, we looked at the engagement of each Fab-Space with the rest of the Making community in the UK by means of possible direct and indirect links (e.g. making-events attendance, physical or digital collaborations with other spaces).

Empirical Material

The qualitative data were collected through secondary sources like Fab-spaces’ websites, online fora and Fab-Spaces’ mailing lists and complemented with those collected in an open dataset from a previous study (Sleigh, Stewart, & Stokes, 2015). These qualitative data were then coded into categorical (high/medium/low) or binary (yes/no) variables and translated into quantitative data to perform the clustering algorithm.


The results of the cluster analysis show three typologies of Fab-Spaces’ socio-technical configurations in the UK. The "average" Fab-Space is community-run and provides a fertile socio-technical context. It offers few but good quality fabrication machines to work with wood and plastic materials, free induction courses on design engineering for members and few specialised courses, charged for non-members. Mostly, it is quite well positioned within the broader network of making activities, attending MakerFaires or other types of off-site gatherings, connecting and collaborating with other local spaces.

Contribution to Scholarship

As the result of the cluster analysis confirms, Fab-Spaces are, at least in theory, strategically positioned to favour entrepreneurial innovation emergence (McKelvie, Short, & Wiklund, 2007). Their socio-technical system, globally connected and locally implemented, allows new forms of innovation to flow (Aldrich, 2014). Thanks to Fab-Spaces’ networks, entrepreneurs could overcome some of the resource constraints they face, increase the efficiency of their personal network and therefore, facilitate their chances of achieving the desired innovation outcome (Leyden, Link, & Siegel, 2014). Even Fab-Spaces which provide limited technical capabilities but have a rather active external social network, might be useful for entrepreneurs. In fact, thanks to a Fab-Space’s links with the rest of the making community, entrepreneurs can widen their social network and get access to complementary resources (Aldrich & Yang, 2014; Tello & Yang, 2012).

Contribution to Practice

This has important implications for both Fab-Spaces’ managers and local governments. While the former might want to think about the opportunities that could arise in establishing links and engaging with the rest of the making community, the latter should consider and proactively encourage the development of makers networks and provide more networking opportunities for makers.


This paper fits well with the overall R&D conference and the 2.1 track as it investigates networks of Fab-Spaces as potential new contexts for entrepreneurial innovation emergence. Governments who will soon need to address the labour demand shock caused by the automation and digitalisation era could benefit from this knowledge.


Aldrich, H., & Yang, T. (2014). How do entrepreneurs know what to do? learning and organizing in new ventures. Journal of Evolutionary Economics, 24(1), 59–82.

Autio, E., Kenney, M., Mustar, P., Siegel, D., & Wright, M. (2014). Entrepreneurial innovation: The importance of context. Research Policy, 43(7), 1097–1108.

Garud, R., Gehman, J., & Giuliani, A. P. (2014). Contextualizing entrepreneurial innovation: A narrative perspective. Research Policy, 43(7), 1177–1188.

Kostakis, V., Niaros, V., & Giotitsas, C. (2015). Production and governance in hackerspaces: A manifestation of Commons-based peer production in the physical realm? International Journal of Cultural Studies, 18(5), 555–573.

Leyden, D. P., Link, A. N., & Siegel, D. S. (2014). A theoretical analysis of the role of social networks in entrepreneurship. Research Policy, 43(7), 1157–1163.

McKelvie, A., Short, J. C., & Wiklund, J. (2007). The New Venture Innovation Process: Examining the Role of Absorptive Capacity. In Entrepreneurial Strategic Processes (Vol. 10, pp. 159–185). Emerald Group Publishing Limited.

Mortara, L., & Parisot, N. G. (2016). Through entrepreneurs’ eyes: the Fab-spaces constellation. International Journal of Production Research, 54(23), 7158–7180.

Sleigh, A., Stewart, H., & Stokes, K. (2015). Open Dataset of UK Makerspaces: a user’s guide. Nesta. Retrieved from

Tello, & Yang. (2012). Nascent Entrepreneurs’ Access and Use of Network Resources in a Technology Incubator. Journal of Entrepreneurship and Small Business. Retrieved from’_Access_and_Use_of_Network_Resources_in_a_Technology_Incubator

Welter, F. (2011). Contextualizing Entrepreneurship—Conceptual Challenges and Ways Forward. Entrepreneurship Theory and Practice, 35(1), 165–184.

Zahra, S. A., & Wright, M. (2011). Entrepreneurship’s Next Act. Academy of Management Perspectives, 25(4), 67–83.

Makers for Open Innovation: Who are the Makers and how to integrate them in Innovation Processes?

David Zakoth1,2, Oliver Mauroner1, Jutta Emes2, Marcel Drescher2

1University of Applied Sciences Mainz, Germany; 2Bauhaus-Universität Weimar, Germany


Companies are constantly looking for new ways to innovate and integrate external knowledge into their innovation processes. In the era of makerspaces, a new source for open innovation strategies has evolved. Research shows that makers are innovative people but currently knows nothing about how to integrate makers into innovation processes.


Chesbrough (2003) argued that more and more companies are looking for external resources to integrate in their innovation process to foster innovation capabilities. Companies agree ‘that not all the smart people in the world work for us’ (Chesbrough, 2003, p. 197). The research from Halbinger (2018) showed that makers are more innovative than others and that makerspaces foster innovation.

Makers are intrinsic motivated people who like to work, hack and tinker around. The access to technologies and machines enables the fast realization of creative ideas, prototypes or even small batches of innovative products (Gershenfeld, 2005; Anderson 2012; Hatch, 2013; Mauroner, 2017).

Further the research of Stock/von Hippel/Gillert (2016) showed that personality traits are important to consider when looking at different phases of innovation processes.

Our research tries to connect these streams and find out how and where in the innovation process different maker types could be integrated.

Literature Gap

Some research has been looking at the motives of makers which is useful when thinking about how to motivate makers to collaborate with companies but current research did not investigate in which stage of an innovation process the integration of makers might be useful and how they could be integrated.

Research Questions

The main research questions our paper focuses on are:

1) What drives makers motivation to tinker with digital fabrication technologies?

2) Are there different maker types and how do they look like?

3) In which phases of the innovation process makers are useful?


Our research is based on a quantitative research design. We first conducted a factor analysis to make sure about the dimensions of the big five model which we used to describe makers personality traits (five-factor-model / FFM, psychological model to measure personality traits). In a second step we used these factors to run a cluster analysis. We finally found four different kind of makers which differ in their personality traits as well as in their motives about why they are tinkering with digital technologies.

Empirical Material

To reach a broad range of makers an email list with over 300 makerspaces in Germany was generated. In the time from 06.12.2017 – 18.01.2018 the survey was scattered on that email list and in the personal network of the authors. The survey generated n = 254 respondents. After clearing the data from incomplete responds and suspect data (e.g. answer time under 5 min), n = 157 questionnaires left.

The data set consists of 59,7% male and 40,3% female participants. Further with 61,7% the main population of the data set are employees followed by students with 27,3% (rest differs). The average age of survey participants is 33.


Companies can use different strategies to integrate makers and thereby profiting from the innovation capabilities of the makers into their innovation process depending on the time dimension of their collaborative open innovation strategy.

The first option is more temporarily by organizing maker events like hackathons. The second way to profit from the innovation capabilities of makers is more long-term oriented and could be a collaboration with a makerspace.

The cluster analysis indicates that makers significantly differ in their mix of personality traits and motives to use makerspaces and participate on hackathons. We found four clusters which could be used to create personas that could be addressed by companies to increase their chance to reach the right makers for their open innovation strategy. All clusters show an underrepresented manifestation of the ‘agreeableness’ dimension which leads to the assumption that makers are not that empathic.

The four different maker types we found are (1) The Tinkerer (2) The Worker Bee (3) The Explorer (4) The Challenger.

According to our results especially the ‘explorer’ could be a very interesting source for idea generation at the beginning of an innovation process because this maker type is characterized by a resourceful, inventive and imaginative personality.

Contribution to Scholarship

Through our cluster analysis we identified four different maker types which have different personality traits and innovation abilities. So, the results helps to guide a direction for further research and getting more concrete about how to integrate the makers e.g. by investigating how specific maker types could be motivated to collaborate with companies.

Contribution to Practice

According to our results companies could use the knowledge about that there are different maker types to start to think about in which phases of their innovation process they need the innovation capabilities of the makers the most e.g. at the beginning of the innovation process the explorer might be a useful maker type to target on. Knowing that companies could start to develop specific incentive programs to attract this maker type.


Our research shows one way how the innovation challenge could be overcome by integrating makerspaces/makers into innovation strategies. Further it fits perfectly to the special track "2.1 Fab Labs, Makerspaces and Coworking spaces as sites of innovation" because it investigates the makerspace phenomenon regarding its meaning for innovation processes.


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