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Many hands make light work: towards a framework of digital co-production to co-creation on social platforms

Sultana Lubna Alam (Deakin Business School, Deakin University, Melbourne, Australia)

Information Technology & People

ISSN: 0959-3845

Article publication date: 22 September 2020

Issue publication date: 24 May 2021




Recent technological advances have enabled consumers and citizens to contribute to organizational processes through co-production and co-creation in ways that challenge traditional co-production. However, the practices and capabilities for value co-creation are less understood, particularly in an increasingly networked social government ecosystem. The purpose of this research is to examine the enablement of new digital co-production practices in social media platforms (SMPs) and theorize SMP-enabled digital co-production vis-à-vis traditional co-production for public sector.


Primarily using principles of interpretivist approaches, a qualitative content analysis of communication practices (i.e. genres) observed within Australian government Facebook pages was carried out to examine the salient digital forms of co-production practices.


SMPs enable new practices in digital co-production for public sector (information dissemination, Q&A, feedback and co-creation), ranging from lower to higher intensity in terms of resource integration, scale of contributions, engagement and extent of relationship vis-à-vis traditional co-production.

Research limitations/implications

This research is bounded by its geographical emphasis on Australian Federal government. Hence, the results may not be readily transferable to other contexts.

Practical implications

Our framework offers an array of choices for digital co-production strategies to suit agency's focus and goals for engagement in the Facebook Pages. As agencies progress to reach higher intensity co-production, public engagement and impact increases.


The paper contributes to co-production in social government ecosystem by increasing the theoretical and practical understanding of new form of SMP-enabled digital co-production defined as “small-scale, repetitive, user-driven co-production that is flexible, durable, ad-hoc, and sporadic, where many hands make light work”. The proposed “co-production to co-creation” framework provides valuable guideline for enhancing public service provision via SMPs.



This research received funding from Facebook Inc. and employed two research assistants to carry out the data collection and coding. The authors are grateful for their assistance with data analysis. Dr. John Campbell was a Professor of Business Information Systems at the Australian National University. Unfortunately, John passed away on 14 January 2019. I would like to take this opportunity to acknowledge John's contribution to this paper.


Alam, S.L. (2021), "Many hands make light work: towards a framework of digital co-production to co-creation on social platforms", Information Technology & People, Vol. 34 No. 3, pp. 1087-1118.



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