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Exploring the “black box” of customer co-creation processes

Jakob Trischler (Griffith University, Nathan, Australia)
Simon J. Pervan (Department of Maketing, Tourism and Social Impact, Swinburne University of Technology, Hawthorn, Australia)
Donald Robert Scott (Southern Cross University, Lismore, Australia)

Journal of Services Marketing

ISSN: 0887-6045

Article publication date: 8 May 2017




Many firms use customer co-creation practices with the aim of benefiting from their customers’ knowledge, skills and resources. This paper aims to explore co-creation processes which involve users with different background characteristics and motivational drivers.


The study builds on an analysis of data from six teams in which users collaborated with in-house professionals for the development of new service concepts. Observations and open-ended questionnaires provided insights into the teams’ development processes. Independent experts rated the generated concepts. The data were analysed using cross-comparison matrices.


The findings suggest that the co-creation process and outcomes can be influenced by numerous intra-team factors, including relationship and task conflicts, participation style, team bonding, team identity and cohesiveness and intra-team collaboration. Their occurrence and influence seem to be linked with a specific team composition. A conceptual co-creation process model and six propositions are used to describe the complex relationships between team composition, intra-team factors and key innovation outcomes.

Research limitations/implications

Research that investigates user involvement in teams needs to consider the complexity of intra-team factors affecting the development process and outcomes. The findings are limited to a specific setting, design task and user sample. Future research should replicate this study in different sectors.

Practical implications

Key to customer co-creation is the systematic recruitment of users based on their background characteristics and motivational drivers. For instance, the involvement of users with very specific innovation-related benefit expectations can cause conflict, leading to narrowly focused outcomes. This, however, can be mitigated by the form of facilitation and roles adopted by in-house professionals. Understanding intra-team dynamics can allow the firm to assemble and facilitate customer co-creation so that generated outcomes can align with set innovation targets.


This paper provides original insights into the “black box” of the customer co-creation process and the complex relationship between team composition, intra-team factors and key innovation outcomes.



Trischler, J., Pervan, S.J. and Scott, D.R. (2017), "Exploring the “black box” of customer co-creation processes", Journal of Services Marketing, Vol. 31 No. 3, pp. 265-280.



Emerald Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2017, Emerald Publishing Limited

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