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Hangar 36: Collaboration between entrepreneurs in spatial clusters

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Author: Pont, A.
Mentor: Van der Meer, H. · Buijs, J.A. · Van Trigt, P.
Faculty:Industrial Design Engineering
Programme:MSc Strategic Product Design
Type:Master thesis
Keywords: collaboration · communities · group decision · motivation
Rights: (c) 2011 Pont, A.


Hangar 36 is part of the Bink 36 complex that is owned by Vestia. Some entrepreneurs see the potential of a group of multi-disciplined, talented and creative entrepreneurs in one location and are interested in structurally benefit from this potential. Every company in Hangar 36 is successful in its own market, but initiating and participating in collaborative projects lost its relevance to most of the entrepreneurs.

This project investigates the possibilities for Hangar 36 and answers the question: How can the entrepreneurs in Hangar 36 structurally benefit from their presence in a spatial cluster which is shared by a group of multi-disciplinary, talented and creative entrepreneurs?

First an analysis is performed that investigated theory on the origin of spatial clusters, collaborative entrepreneurship (Ribeiro-Soriano & Urbano, 2009) and communities of practice (Akkermans, Petter & de Laat, 2008; Wenger, 1998). It was found that relevance towards collaboration and a sense of belonging to the group are two very important aspects that have to receive enough attention before thinking about coordination and organization. This is described as engaging in meaningful and shared activities (Akkermans et al., 2008).

The current situation in Hangar 36 was analyzed by interviewing every entrepreneur on a number of topics. It was found that collaboration was considered important, but past attempts were considered irrelevant by a number of entrepreneurs after a while.
A number of examples of collaborative clusters have been visited. The two factors that found to influence the difference in collaborative activity within a spatial cluster the most are the clusters’ primary goals and the level of management within the cluster. This results in the classification of four types of clusters: Facilitator, Incubator, Collective and Accumulator. It was found that the original intention from Hangar 36 did not thrive because it tried to fit too many different categories at the same time. In the current situation Hangar 36 is classified as an accumulator.

The visited examples served as a source of inspiration for opportunities for Hangar 36. A set of criteria is composed from the strengths and bottlenecks found in the interviews. Combining these criteria transforms these opportunities into 5 diverging concept directions.

The concepts were presented to the entrepreneurs during a lunch session that included a group discussion with the purpose to find out which aspects are perceived as relevant in terms of collaboration. The outcome of the discussion was converged and summarized in the following mentality.

Hangar 36 should be an engine for the participating businesses. Potential clients should know the name, and the location should attract clients as well. Any activity that distracts too much from executing core business activities is not appreciated at this point.

This mentality was the starting point for diverging into a second round of idea generation. The mentality is transformed in two separate questions. The ideas take the set of criteria that have been derived earlier into account and were designed to be practical, implementable and affordable on a small budget.
The second gathering was in the form of a creative session. The entrepreneurs picked their favorite ideas and supplemented and improved them. Furthermore, they have identified the required tasks for implementation and the steps that contain these tasks. The ideas were accommodated with a catchy title by the entrepreneurs and presented to each other.

A roadmap describes how this project could have an impact on the further development of Hangar 36 on an abstract level, by cycling through the dimensions of communities of practice (as defined by Wenger, 1998).

The ideas from the second session were digitalized and combined in the form of an idea catalog. The digital versions of the ideas are also contained in this report. The catalog was printed and presented to Hangar 36 as a means to physically take the ideas to the next meetings.