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Co-creating service experience practices

Janet R McColl-Kennedy (The University of Queensland)
Lilliemay Cheung (The University of Queensland)
Elizabeth Ferrier (UQ Business School, The University of Queensland, Brisbane, Australia)

Journal of Service Management

ISSN: 1757-5818

Article publication date: 20 April 2015



The purpose of this paper is threefold: to introduce a practice-based framework designed to integrate and deepen our understanding of how individuals co-create service experience practices; to identify co-creating service experience practices; and to provide a compelling agenda for future research, and offer practical strategies to enhance co-created service experiences. Accordingly, we extend practice theory, building on Kjellberg and Helgesson’s (2006) practice-based framework for markets by integrating Holt’s (1995) consumer practices and social capital-based practices (Gittell and Vidal, 1998; Woolcock, 2001).


The authors interpretive analysis draws on naturalistic observations carried out over 18 months, supplemented with 35 interviews (17 with residents, and 18 with staff) and a diary study of nine non-management staff (including nursing staff, kitchen and cleaning staff and administrative staff) at a residential aged care facility.


This paper offers a new conceptualization of service experience. Rather than viewing service experiences as dyadic, designed and produced by the firm for the customer, the authors conceptualize service experience as dynamic, experiential, relational activities and interactions, thus highlighting the collective, collaborative, evolving and dynamic nature of service experience.

Research limitations/implications

Building on McColl-Kennedy et al.’s (2012) foundational work, the authors articulate three distinct types of practices that characterize service experiences. We extend practice theory offering an integrative practice-based framework consistent with our practice-based conceptualization of service experience. Based on the service ecosystem metaphor and drawing parallels and contrasts with an ant colony, the authors provide a co-created service experience practices (CSEP) framework comprising: representational practices – assimilating, producing and personalizing; normalizing practices – bonding, bridging and linking; and exchange practices – accounting (searching and selecting), evaluating (sorting and assorting), appreciating, classifying (displaying objects and demonstrating collective action, and play (communing and entertaining). Our CSEP framework integrates three theoretical frameworks, that of Kjellberg and Helgesson’s (2006) market practices framework, Holt’s (1995) consumer practices and social capital-based practices (Gittell and Vidal, 1998; Woolcock, 2001), to yield a deeper explanation of co-created service experience practices.

Practical implications

It is clear from our observations, interviews with residents and staff, and from the diary study, that customers co-create service experiences in many different ways, each contextually determined. In some cases the customers are well equipped with a wide array of resources, integrated from exchanges with other customers, staff, friends and family and from their own resources. In other cases, however, few resources are integrated from few sources. Importantly, the authors found that some staff are willing and able to offer an extensive range of resources designed to complement the customers’ own resources to help facilitate the service experience. We offer a seven-point practical plan designed to enhance service experiences.


The authors work contributes theoretically and practically in four important ways. First, the authors provide a critical analysis of prior service experience conceptualizations. Second, consistent with the conceptualization that service experiences are dynamic, experiential, relational activities and interactions developed with the customer and potentially other actors, including for example, other customers, organizations, and friends and family, we draw parallels and contrasts with a biological ecosystem and offer a co-created service experience practices (CSEP) framework designed to integrate and deepen the understanding of co-created service experiences and extend practice theory. Third, the authors provide managerial implications, including a seven-point practical plan. Finally, the authors offer a research agenda to assist further theory development.



The authors gratefully acknowledge the research grant from The University of Queensland and the access and in-kind support provided by Lutheran Community Care.


McColl-Kennedy, J.R., Cheung, L. and Ferrier, E. (2015), "Co-creating service experience practices", Journal of Service Management, Vol. 26 No. 2, pp. 249-275.



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