Discussing co-creation and collaboration presumes the existance of a team. Multiple people working together in one way or the other. There are many variables influencing the productivity of a team. One of those defined variables is ‘proximity’.

The term proximity literally means the state of being near in space or time. Different sciences offer different definitions, depending on their needs. In the field of team management and psychology various kinds of proximity are defined.

Geographic proximity describes the physical geographic distance between team members as measured in meters or kilometers.

Organizational proximity is about the ability of an organization to stimulate and facilitate members to interact (Rallet & Torre, 2005). This implies that interactions within a team or organization are easier than those with individuals outside the organization. (Grabowska, 2009), for two reasons:
– Belonging to an organization means there is existence of interactions between its members, inscribed – as the evolutionist language puts it – in the genes or routines ofthe organization. This is what is called the logic of belonging of organized proximity.
– Members of an organization are said to share one system of representations, or set of beliefs, and the same knowledge. This social relation is mainly tacit. This is what is called the logic of similarity of organized proximity.

Geographical and organized proximity created a base for inventing new types of proximity by different researchers and authors.

For instance Boschma describes two other types of proximity: cognitive and social proximity (Boschma, 2005)

Boschma states that cognitive proximity is used for knowledge transfer and absorption between actors. Cognitive capacity of actors in a creative process should be at a particular level to make their cooperation optimal.

Social proximity on the other hand is defined in terms of trust, friendship and shared experiences.

 

The relevance to my research is that I will be working in a geographically decentralized team, with many team members working individually from their own workspaces. So I have to develop an position on these different types of proximity and create an approach.

Geographic proximity

Although a lot of the work will be done individually from different workspaces (this is directly connected to stimulating a level of individual ownership) I do not want to underestimate the importance of physical gatherings. From this follows that I will emphasize the search for new teammembers within the Netherlands. During my first meetings with teammembers this has proven an important factor.

Organizational proximity

To facilitate and stimulate the interaction between team members (who are geographically separated) I will research and experiment with existing webbased tools. During the exploration phase we used Pinterest as a platform for sharing which worked really well.

Cognitive proximity

For team members to be able to communicate they need a basis in shared language and at a later stage a shared design vision. To some extent this plays a role in the recruitment of new team members, but it should also be a guiding principle in designing the methods for collaboration.

Social proximity

When inviting individual collaborators to share in the design process and dare to take risks, there has to be a level of trust, between me and them, and between all the other participants.

 

 


Torre, A. (2006) Clusters and Temporary Geographical Proximity, presented at ERSA Conference in Volos (Greece).

Boschma, R.A. (2005) Proximity and innovation. A critical assessment, Regional Studies