Value co-creation processes: a problematization approach

Looking for resilience along value creation processes

Value co-creation processes: a problematization approach

Beatrice Re, Giovanna Magnani

Since its introduction, Prahalad and Ramaswamy’s concept of value co-creation has represented a milestone in scholarly conversations in service science, management and innovation research. In particular, in the last two decades, the concept of co-creation has widespread and has attracted a great amount of academic works (Galvagno and Dalli, 2014) belonging to diverse research fields (ibid). Co-creation has been defined in several ways. Among the most popular definitions, there is the one of Grönroos and Voima, (2013), which define it as “a process by which mutual value is expanded together” or the more recent one by Galvagno and Dalli (2014, p.644) seeing co-creation as a “joint, collaborative, concurrent, peer-like process of producing new value, both materially and symbolically”, which allows the actors involved to create value through interaction (ibid, p.643). An interaction is a dialogical process (Ballantyne, 2004; Ballantyne and Varey, 2006), meaning that it requires that the parties involved are actively interfacing with each other in building a relationship.

The co-creation concept has gained momentum in 2004, as a pillar of the service-dominant (S-D) logic (Vargo and Lusch, 2004), which has become particularly influent in the marketing field. Marketing theory has been for a long time based on the goods-dominant (G-D) logic, i.e. “an economic-based view centered on firms and their creation and distribution of tangible goods” (Whalen and Akaka, 2016, p.64). The introduction of a logic based on services has radically altered the marketing theory. Central to S-D logic is the idea that customers are always co-creator of value (Vargo and Lusch, 2004). The S-D logic does not limit itself to the dyadic relation between producers and consumers: as stated by Lusch and Nambisan (2015, p. 190), “all actors are resource integrators in a network of other actors, and thus all actors are potential innovators or co-creators of value”.

On the one hand, it is widely acknowledged that the S-D logic concerns a process affecting and including actions of diverse actors in a system (e.g. Vargo and Lusch, 2011; Gronroos and Voima, 2013), while on the other there has been a conceptual and empirical focus on firms and customers as the two main actors involved in the co-creation process, while overlooking the study of the dyadic interactions between other actors in the ecosystem, which is still in need of further investigation (Autio and Thomas, 2019).

Ecosystems are defined as “dynamic and co-evolving communities of diverse actors who create and capture new value through both collaboration and competition” (Armstrong et al., 2015, p. 45) and it is composed of actors who interact to co-create mutual benefits, i.e., ‘value’ (Autio and Thomas, 2014; Constantinides et al., 2018; Jacobides et al., 2018; Thomas, Autio, and Gann, 2014; Yoo, Boland, Lyytinen, and Majchrzak, 2012).

Value co-creation within ecosystems has been explored by three disciplinary perspectives (Autio and Thomas, 2019), i.e. the strategy perspective (Adner, 2017; Adner and Kapoor, 2010; Dattée et al., 2018; Hannah and Eisenhardt, 2018; Jacobides et al., 2018; Ozalp et al., 2018), the service marketing perspective, the notorious S-D logic (Barrett et al., 2015; Lusch andNambisan, 2015; Vargo and Lusch, 2004; Vargo et al., 2015), and the information systems (IS) perspective (El Sawy et al., 2010; Um et al., 2013; Zittrain, 2006, 2008).

By embracing the S-D logic perspective, renowned scholars have recently developed the concept of service ecosystems (e.g. Akaka et al., 2012; Lusch and Nambisan, 2015; Lusch and Vargo, 2014), defined as “relatively self-contained, self-adjusting system[s] of mostly loosely coupled social and economic (resource-integrating) actors connected by shared institutional logics and mutual value creation through service exchange” (Lusch and Nambisan, 2015, p. 161; Lusch and Vargo, 2014). The conceptualization of service ecosystems is still at its infancy, as well as the study of the dyadic mechanisms of interactions within ecosystems (Autio and Thomas, 2019). There is an observable lack of conceptual clarity as to the processes of value co-creation and co-creation mechanisms at a dyadic level between a focal firm and each actor involved.

We acknowledge the fact that the S-D logic may offer useful instruments to analyze the dyadic co-creation dynamics (ibid). Consequently, following the overlooked issues highlighted by the authors, we aim at improving the conceptual clarity as to the process of value co-creation within ecosystems and, more in detail, to the dyadic co-creation mechanisms between a focal firm and each co-creating actor. The research question we aim to answer is the following: how is value co-creation conceptualized in the context of ecosystems within extant management literature?

#co-creation #ecosystem #process #systematic literature review #value