To read this content please select one of the options below:

Co-creation as a strategy for program management

Malin H. Näsholm (Umeå School of Business and Economics, Umeå University, Umeå, Sweden)
Tomas Blomquist (Umeå School of Business and Economics, Umeå University, Umeå, Sweden)

International Journal of Managing Projects in Business

ISSN: 1753-8378

Article publication date: 5 January 2015




Little attention has been paid to the initial development of programs. The purpose of this paper is to explore co-creation as an alternative strategic approach for program management. Co-creation of programs means that the projects within the program are created by the users and producers of the projects.


The paper is based on a case study of the co-creation approach of the Umeå 2014 European Capital of Culture program. The empirical material analyzed consists of qualitative interviews with members of the Umeå 2014 team and the politicians involved, as well as secondary data on the program.


The Umeå 2014 Capital of Culture program takes the form of a platform that makes meetings and interactions possible. Co-creation allows for creative cultural projects to emerge, but the program becomes reliant on the different actors involved. Balancing dilemmas of multiple stakeholders and maintaining control while enabling the emergence of ideas is key.

Practical implications

These findings have practical implications for the management of more emergent program structures. A flexible organization with guiding values and criteria to balance the different projects can be used to achieve program goals when multiple stakeholders have their own agendas.


This paper contributes to research on program management by introducing the concept of co-creation as a strategic approach for program management. The creative and innovative benefits of co-creation can be reached in the development of programs but other challenges for their management are involved.



This paper was written as a part of the research project “Strategy, design and organizing in city development processes” which is funded by Riksbankens Jubileumsfond, the Swedish Foundation for Humanities and Social Sciences. A previous version of this paper was presented at the 22nd Nordic Academy of Management Conference, Reykjavík, Iceland. The authors are grateful for the helpful comments and suggestions, especially to the guest editors and the anonymous reviewers.


Näsholm, M.H. and Blomquist, T. (2015), "Co-creation as a strategy for program management", International Journal of Managing Projects in Business, Vol. 8 No. 1, pp. 58-73.



Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2015, Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Related articles