Before Birth: How Provisional Spaces Shape the Localized Emergence of New Organizational Forms. By: Li, Ying and Khessina, Olga M. 2024. Academy of Management Journal. Vol. 67 Issue 2, p494-525.

The literature on evolution of organizational forms has remained largely silent on where the first organizational instance of a new form comes from, treating it as either a given or an outcome of random variation. We challenge this agnostic assumption by putting the first organizational founding into a specific spatiotemporal context and revealing the role of provisional spaces, defined as small-scale, easily accessible settings where market pioneers temporarily experiment with applications of an innovation before dedicated
organizations emerge. We theorize that provisional spaces disseminate necessary information about an innovation and enable potential entrepreneurs to envision a new template for organizing. Therefore, geographic communities with a higher number of provisional spaces are more likely to host the first organization embodying a new form sooner than others. Using archival data on
all movie-showing venues in Chicago communities, 1896–1927, we find empirical support for our theorizing. Community variance in volume and types of provisional spaces for movie projectors, such as opera houses and penny arcades, led to community-level differences in the emergence of distinct movie theater forms: nickelodeon, movie house, and movie palace. We advance scholarship on organizational form emergence by uncovering the role of provisional spaces in shaping localized opportunity structures.