Exploring Value Co-Creation Concept: A Bibliometric Analysis of 20 Years of Research and Theory

Yousef Alqayed, Pantea Foroudi, Kaouther Kooli, Mohammad Foroudi, and Maria Antonella Ferri


Value-co-creation has gained considerable attention from both business and management researchers (e.g., Gronroos and Voimo, 2013; Schau et al., 2009). Over the past decade, researchers have analyzed wide ranges of value-co-creation relationships. For instance, co-creation behavior (Hatch & Schultz, 2010; Yi & Gong, 2013), co-creation ecosystems (Pitelis, 2012) andco-innovation (Lee et al., 2012) have all received substantial attention. This body of knowledge remains disjointed and indicates very few normative and prescriptive approaches to value-co-creation. To develop more relevant research on the construct, a valid, intellectual, structural analysis is needed.

Evaluating highly cited articles can guide the future research agenda (Yadav, 2010). Different scholars have used bibliometric analysis (e. g., Acedo et al., 2006; Ramos-Rodriguez & Ruiz-Navarro, 2004; Schildt et al., 2006). Bibliometric analysis could potentially help scholars identify the most critical topics in value-co-creation. Recently, bibliometric analysis (Alves et al., 2016; Wilden et al., 2017) has been applied to investigate the value-co-creation concept. Alves et al. (2016) analyzed highly cited articles that addressed value-co-creation using VOS viewer software. Additionally, Wilden et al. (2017) studied the theoretical background that has boosted the concept of value-co-creation, initially, service-dominant-logic (S-D) introduced by Vargo and Lusch (2004). Neither of these studies investigated the most highly cited papers using MDS analysis. Also, these studies did not consider recent highly cited papers and did not propose a future model. Our quantitative analysis of the marketing literature on value-co-creation complements researchers’ understanding of the concept.

Like all other scientific domains, knowledge enhancement occurs over time (Kuhn, 1996). Furthermore, the main aim of this study is to provide a comprehensive knowledge of the concept of value-co-creation and to investigate how studies that build on this concept have evolved overtime. To achieve this, a co-citation analysis is conducted to identify the most highly cited publications in value-co-creation, which can result in strengthening the scientific foundations of value-co-creation. First of all, an overview of the value-co- creation concept is provided. Second, the procedure to extract data is discussed. Third, the emerging findings are debated before concluding and stating the research limitations.


The concept of service-dominant logic is a theoretical framework that shifted the academic literature of ‘co-creation’ into a new way of processing how value is developed within an exchange system; service-dominant logic provides a comprehensive understanding of value-co-creation. This approach considers all the economic and social actors (e.g., firms, customers) as value co-creators and resource integrators (Vargo & Lusch, 2004, 2008). Resources can be divided into two different categories: operant resources are used to act (e.g., knowledge and human skills) and operand resources are those that require some actions to be performed on them (e.g., oil and gas). Vargo and Lusch (2008) suggested that every economic actor is a resource generator and creates a resource for other parties.

The debate on value-co-creation, triggered by pioneering works of Vargo and Lusch (2004), Prahalad and Ramaswamy (2004a) and Gronroos (2011), called into questions the traditional approach to markets as being aggregates of consumers and emphasized the control customers have over their co-creation experience. Prahalad and Ramaswamy (2004) claimed that “co-creation is about joint creation of value by the company and the customer. It is not the firm trying to please the customer” (p. 8). This relationship between the company and the customer is the focus of other research emphasizing that value is created through a continuum of relationship between organizations and customers, where an organization proposes value through its offerings and customers co-create value through their use of these offerings (Vargo et al., 2008). Customers’ role in value-co-creation is essential (Prahalad & Ramaswamy, 2002; Tax et al., 2006). Vargo and Lusch (2008) ascertained that “there is no value until an offering is used - experience and perception are essential to value determination” (p. 44). Moreover, the interaction between customers and firms is essential for value-co-creation to occur (Gronroos, 2011a). Hence, forming “one integrated process of coordinated actions, where both parties are active, learn together and from each other, and may directly influence each other” (Gronroos, 2011, p. 290). Edvardsson et al. (2011) and Vargo and Lusch (2008) argued that value-co-creation occurs as a result of other interactions of actors who integrate resources to co-create value. This interaction between actors represents occasions for both value-creation and extraction.

Although abundant literature has emerged as a result of these new approaches, the definition of value-co-creation has remained ambiguous. The literature provides a few definitions of the concept of value-co-creation. Payne et al. (2008) emphasized that the value-co- creation procedure includes the activities, tasks, interactions and processes that support the value-co-creation. McColl-Kennedy et al. (2012, p. 370) defined value-co-creation as the “benefit realized for the integration of resources through activities and interactions with collaborators in the customer’s service network”. Gummerus (2013) further explained that “value [co-]creation processes consider the parties, activities, and resources involved in value [co-]creation, whereas value outcome determination refers to the type of value outcomes customers (or any one party) perceive” (p. 20).

Bibliometric method

Bibliometrics are generally considered as a literature review analysis method (Cole & Eales, 1917). The term bibliometrics was first used by Prichard (1969) and was described as a method for using mathematics and statistics to analyze books and other media. Later,

Hawkins (2001) suggested that bibliometrics can be used as a method of analyzing the literature. To analyze the literature using bibliometric analysis, researchers and scholars use a wide range of techniques including textual analysis, citation analysis or co-citation analysis. In order to carry out co-citations analysis of documents, the most useful method is multidirectional scaling (MDS) (Finn & Louviere, 1996). The most highly cited documents are found and an MDS matrix is made of them. This map shows the structure of the research domain. Additionally, it identifies the most useful and influential ideas of the research domain. Bibliometric analyses help researchers avoid any subjective literature bias. Additionally, it provides a quantifiable and more accurate approach for a literature review (Watkins, 1984). Bibliometric analyses have used a wide variety of research, ranging from marketing (Chabowski et al., 2013) to strategy (Acedo et al., 2006).


To begin with, we had to identify the co-creation concept and its domain in our research. The objective of this stage is to recognize the relevant terms that are currently in use and make an approach to help researchers identify and choose relevant studies and publications related to value-co-creation. This process is important as the term ‘co-creation’ has been used in many ditferent contexts. As a starting point, we used the term ‘value-co-creation’ to find the authors who were cited highly. This helps to provide a list of research into the value-co-creation field. The keywords used to find value-co-creation papers from business and management related journals in the WOS (Web of Science) was ‘value-co-creation and ‘value creation’.

We searched for information since 1970, and this resulted in 505 articles and 10,106 citations of ‘value-co-creation’ in WOS. This timeframe captures the entirety of the research related to the value-co-creation concept. However, to the authors’ knowledge, value-co-creation articles were not published before 2006. In general, the WoS was searched using four fields for each article: (1) title, (2) abstract (3) keywords and (4) article’s specific identifier. In order to produce a reliable result, all methodology papers, editorial notes and other irrelevant research items were excluded from our database (Samiee & Chabowski, 2012).

Afterwards, academic articles were collected and coded. A frequency count was used to find the most highly cited articles in the study sample. Then, the co-citation matrix was developed. Therefore, MDS was used to assess the potential for model instability (Burt, 1983). This required the number of highly cited value-co-creation articles to be increased until the threshold for good model fit was reached. Based on common practice in bibliometric analyses, associated with the importance of a network-model, with a stress-value of 0.10 or less represents a good model fit (Ramos-Rodriguez & Ruiz- Navarro, 2004). As a result, we included 26 papers in the research (Table 15.1). Adding more highly cited papers increases the stress value; hence, it makes the configuration meaningless and more ambiguous. To have a meaningful result (Hair et al., 2014), a standardized distance of 0.25 was applied for identifying the cliques and the research groups; this identifies research groups that contain more than three highly cited papers (Wasserman & Faust, 1994). The following sections illustrates the outcomes of the bibliometric assessment.

TABLE 15.1 The most highly cited value-co-creation articles






Vargo S, 2004, J Marketing



Vargo S, 2008, j Acad Market Sci



Payne A, 2008, J Acad Market Sci



Vargo Stephen L, 2008, Eur. Manag.J.



Prahalad C, 2004, J Interact Mark



Gronroos C, 2013, / Acad Market Sci



Edvardsson 13, 2011, J Acad Market Sci



Vargo S, 2011, Itid Market Manag



Gronroos C, 2008, Enr Bus Ren



Gronroos C, 2011, Marketing Theor



Eisenhardt K, 1989, Acad Manage Ren



Chandler J, 2011, Marketing Theor



Prahalad C, 2000, Harvard Bus Rev



Echeverri P, 2011, Marketing Theor



Lusch Robert F, 2006, Marketing Theor



Mccoll-Kennedy J, 2012, J Serv Rcs-Us



Lusch R, 2010, J Acad Market Sci



Vargo S, 2016, J Acad Market Sci



Prahalad C, 2004, Strategy Leadership



Lusch R, 2007, J Retailing



Yi Y, 2013 J Bus Res



Lusch R, 2014, Service-Dominant Logic: Premises



Schau H, 2009, J Marketing



Prahalad C, 2004, Future Competition C



Ballantyne D, 2006, Marketing Theor



Normann R, 1993, Harvard Bus Rev


Firstly, the general nature of the 26 highly cited articles in value-co-creation is reviewed. Secondly, the outcomes of the bibliometric analysis are presented. This analysis offers a complete understanding of the highly cited published value-co-creation articles that make up this study, in order to introduce a further research agenda in the next sections.

Citation overview

The majority of the cited articles are authored by 15 researchers (first authors) and provide a basic understanding of the possible impacts on this research domain (Table 15.1). Vargo and Lusch (2004) had 307 citations in our sample, and this highlights the importance of the service-dominant logic theory of value-co-creation. This article forms the initial steps of defining the service-dominant logic. Their second paper on service-dominant-logic holds the second rank among highly cited papers, having 235 citations (Vargo and Lusch, 2008). This article was written four years after their first paper. Vargo and Lusch (2008) first answered the issues raised by their first article and also tried to further develop the service-dominant logic topic and discuss its managerial and theoretical features.

Exploring value co-creation concept 295

Additionally, the article of Vargo and Lusch (2011) received 87 citations. The subject of this paper is value-co-creation in a B2B context. The researchers suggest that value is co-created between the actors. Furthermore, they suggest that actors can be either firms or customers. Payne et al. (2008) hold the third rank of highly cited articles with 169 citations emphasizing value-co-creation management. Prahalad and Ramaswamy (2004) with 118 citations shed light on the importance of the experience of co-creation. In comparison, the Gronroos (2011) work on value-co-creation receives 79 citations. Noteworthy, the Yi and Gong (2013) article sheds light on value-co-creation behavior. Their work received 53 citations. Finally, among the most highly cited articles, Schau et al. (2009) studied the importance of brand community in establishing value-co-creation and received 51 citations.

Co-citation analysis

The MDS findings repressing the value-co-creation employed the data for the concept of co-citation as an indicator among the highly cited articles. The higher the co-citation is, the higher the shared knowledge is. Likewise, lower co-citations reflect that articles have less in common. By applying the standardized distance of 0.25, Figure 15.1 reveals five groups in value-co-creation. There are two unconnected groups of two articles (Groups 1 and 4).

Value-co-creation knowledge structure.

Stress value = 0.085; Standard distance: 0.25.

Co-creation knowledge structure

FIGURE 15.1 Co-creation knowledge structure.

VI = Ballantyne and Varey (2006), V2 = Chandler and Vargo (2011), V3 = Echeverri and Skalen (2011), V4 = Edvardsson et al. (2011), V5 = Eisenhardt (1989), V6 = Gronroos and Voima (2008), V7 = Gronroos (2011), V8 = Gronroos (2013), V9 = Lusch et al. (2007), V10 = Lusch et al. (2010), Vll = Lusch and Vargo (2014), V12 = Lusch and Vargo (2006), V13 = McColl-Kennedy et al. (2012), V14 = Normann and Ramirez (1993), V15 = Payne (2008), V16 = Prahalad and Ramaswamy (2000), V17 = Prahalad and Ramaswamy,(2004a), V18 = Prahalad and Ramaswamy (2004b), V19 = Prahald and Ramaswamy (2004), V20 = Schau et al. (2009), V21 = Vargo and Lusch (2004), V22 = Vargo et al. (2008), V23 = Vargo and Lusch (2011), V24 = Vargo and Lusch (2016), V24 = V25 =Vargo and Lusch (2008), V26 = Yi and Gong (2013).

Group 1 (V2, V8): Value in use; Group 2 (V4, V15): Value-co-creation process; Group 3 (V4, V18): customer-firm interaction; Group 4 (V7, V25): value-creation in service systems; Group 5 (V15, V18, V21, V22): Service-Dominant logic.

According to the configuration of the study groups, we can recognize the core and instrumental research domain articles. The main value-co-creation groups are valued sphere (Group 1), social exchange (Group 2), value-co-creation management (Group 3) and customer-firm interaction resource integration and application (Group 4). These study groups show highly cited papers that mainly focus on value-co-creation. Also, research groups thatare not central include service-dominant logic (Group 5). Contrary to the core groups, the instrumental groups mainly focus on service-dominant-logic, that is the fundamental theoretical root of value-co-creation. Although service-dominant logic was used primarily in value-co-creation, it is also used in other research domains such as customer engagement (Shaw et al., 2011).

First, value-in-use (Group 1) highlights the important role of context in value-co- creation. This group sheds light on the importance of the role of actors who ‘come together’ through the exchange in a particular context. More specifically, Gronroos and Voima (2013) investigate value-creation in the service domain by concentrating on the customer-firm role. Chandler and Vargo (2011) found two forms of actors from individual actors to the market. They suggest that individual actors are at the micro level and the market is at the macro level. Their findings indicate that both levels influence each other. Additionally, their results indicate that there is an additional level, a meso level, which is positioned between these two levels.

Secondly, value-co-creation process and social exchange (Group 2) extend the knowledge of the value-co-creation process by using basic concepts of social constructions to make a process-based conceptual framework of value-co-creation understanding in the S-D logic context. In this group, Edvardsson et al. (2011) try to expand the knowledge of value-co-creation by combining it with service exchange. Their results identify a framework that offers ideas on how value-co-creation and service exchange concepts are affected by and rooted in the social system. Moreover, Payne et al. (2008) suggest that value-co- creation is made between the customer and suppliers by dialogue and interaction. In their papers, researchers explore the essence of value-co-creation and also develop a framework for offering a more comprehensive understanding of the concept of value-co-creation.

Thirdly, customer-firm interaction (Group 3) highlights the position of the quality of customers’ experience during their interaction period with firms. In this group, Ballantyne and Varey (2006) extend the work of Vargo and Lusch (2004). This paper tries to identify exchange as a macro concept in marketing. Their findings suggest that for value-co-creation, the first requirement is the application of resources. Secondly, to establish a relationship, interaction and communication are required. Finally, knowledge is necessary for enhancing the experience of customer service.

Fourth, value-creation in service systems (Group 4) shows the important role of the process of value-creation in service systems by integration of different resources. The work of Gronroos (2011a) in this group suggests that in order to have a better understanding of value-co-creation, researchers should have a comprehensive understanding of the interaction concept. Findings of Gronroos (2011b) suggest that without a deep understating of interaction, value-co-creation is a meaningless concept. Additionally, Vargo et al. (2008) argue that value-co-creation is the main and core purpose of the economic exchange. However, this paper notably provides an alternative perspective of service-dominant logic. The researchers view competence application (knowledge and skill), unit of analysis (service system) and the way of studying service systems and value-co-creation in a complicated and complex configuration of resources (service system). Moreover, the researchers suggest that value is fundamentally created in usage, contrary to the common belief of being exchanged.

Finally, service-dominant-logic (Group 5) indicates the critical importance of service-dominant logic as a fundamental theoretical basis of value-co-creation. Both Vargo and Lusch (2004, 2008) articles concern service-dominant logic. In the first paper, researchers tried to propose and develop service-dominant logic. In the second paper, as discussed earlier, the researchers attempted to answer the questions arising from the first paper.

Besides, the analysis of ungrouped and grouped papers in Figure 15.1 suggests a comprehensive knowledge of the horizontal and vertical essence of value-co-creation. First, regarding the vertical dimension, the articles at the top reflect experience co-creation (Prahalad & Ramaswamy, 2004). In contrast, articles at the bottom of MDS findings seem to focus on co-created experience management (Eisenhardt & Martin, 2000; Prahalad & Ramaswamy, 2000; Schau et al., 2009). Studies on the left side of the horizontal axis in the MDS outcome concentrate on value-co-creation behavior (Lusch & Vargo, 2014; McColl-Kennedy et al., 2012; Yi & Gong, 2013), whereas articles on the right side concentrate on the value-co- creation chain.

To validate the nature of our analysis, more recent highly cited papers were identified. The same process was used to identify value-co-creation process articles published since 2015 that had received at least five citations per year in WoS. Doing so provided the view of longevity in the value-co-creation domain (Burrell, 2003). Table 15.2 identifies 18 articles that meet the criteria. To sum up, these outcomes offer possible future value-co-creation opportunities.


This section provides a detailed basis for proposing a future research model. To begin with is the discussion of the highly cited papers (Table 15.1) and the recent highly cited papers (Table 15.2). Researchers analyzed these studies to produce an established theme for proposing a future model. Like the approach used for producing specific groups in MDS analysis, the same terminology was applied for establishing the five topic groups.

For instance, the integration of resources was very prevalent in our study. In more detail, the value-co-creation process (Group 2) suggests that operant resources (e.g., customer resources) have the same level of importance as operand resources. Significantly, this group






Average per year


Innovation through institutionalization: A service ecosystems perspective

Vargo et al. (2015)




Value-co-creation: concept and measurement

Ranjan and Read (2016)




Exploring value propositions and service innovation: a service-dominant logic study

Skalenet al. (2015)




Actor engagement as a microfoundation for value-co-creation

Storbacka et al. (2016)




Selling, Sharing, and Everything In Between: The Hybrid Economies of Collaborative Networks

Scaraboto (2015)




Value-co-creation through Patient

Engagement in Health Care: A micro-level approach and research agenda

Hardyman et al. (2015)




The context of experience

Akaka et al. (2015)




Co-creation practices: Their role in shaping a health care ecosystem

Frow et al. (2016)




Brand value-co-creation in a digitalized world: An integrative framework and research implications

Ramaswamy et al. (2016)




An investigation into gamification as a customer engagement experience environment

Harwood and Garry (2015)




Со-creating value from knowledge-intensive business services in manufacturing firms: The moderating role of relationship learning in supplier-customer interactions

Kohtamaki and Partanen (2016)




Competition and strategy in higher education: Managing complexity and uncertainty

Pucciarelli and Kaplan (2016)




Value-co-creation: Concept and contexts of application and study

Alves et al. (2016)




Service-Dominant Orientation: Measurement and Impact on Performance Outcomes

Karpen et al. (2015)




Fostering a trans-disciplinary perspectives of service ecosystems

Lusch et al. (2016)




Value-co-creation and customer loyalty

Cossio-Silva et al. (2016)




Fresh perspectives on customer experience

McColl-Kennedy et al. (2015)




Social media and value-co-creation in multistakeholder systems: A resource integration approach

Singaraju et al. (2016)



indicates the concept of value-co-creation occurs when customers and firms have interactions with each other. In other words, the integration of operant and operand resources results in value-co-creation. Although the general topic of value-co-creation process (Group 2) offers an indication of the importance of customer and firm resources for value- co-creation, there is also an emphasis on the type of co-creation. Customer-firm interaction

(Group 3) analyzes the experience creation as a result of operant and operand resource integration. As noted earlier, the integration of operand and operant resources is the result of customer and firm interaction, resulting in value-co-creation. This group analysis the interaction types ranging from formative interaction to dialogue. Group 3 also identified the role of dialogue as an essential element of innovation and a source of creativity. For instance, innovation co-creation, production innovation and value-co-creation are all discussed and examined in the MDS results, signalling the importance of co-creation.

Third, the influence of context on value-co-creation was found in S-D group (Group 5). Additionally, the main differences between micro, meso, and macro levels of co-creation were studied in value in use (Group 1). This group studies the different contexts and the process of exchange between value-co-creation actors. The micro context suggests that the exchange happens between two actors. The meso context indicates that the exchange occurs between dyads and it includes both direct and indirect exchanges.

Additionally, the two other exchange networks, micro and macro, have been studied]. The micro context refers to the context when the exchange occurs between two actors. Furthermore, this level relates to direct service-for-service exchange. In other words, each actor serves another actor by offering their resources. In the macro context, the exchange happens at triad level. It is vital to note that this level of exchange is complicated. Taken together, the two groups provide a vibrant indication of the role of context in co-creation research.

Fourth, service or product development during the co-creation process was under investigation. This theme is included in the articles that approach co-creation as a source of understanding the innovation in both service and product growth. Also, the co-creation process (Group 4) investigates the importance of knowledge and learning and how firms and customers co-create value together. More specifically, the co-creation process focuses on how managers can manage the process of value-co-creation, which results in developing the relationship experience.

Finally, the application of co-creation was under analysis by different researchers (e.g., Vega-Vazquez et al., 2013; Yi & Gong, 2013). Co-creation can bring various benefits to firms. Besides, value-co-creation behavior as a result of value-co-creation can lead to customer citizenship behavior and customer participation behavior (Yi & Gong, 2013). Additionally, the findings of Vega-Vazquez et al. (2013) revealed that there is a positive link among satisfaction and value-co-creation. Besides, value-co-creation results in product/ service innovation (Hatch & Schultz, 2010) and brand equity (Helm & Jones, 2010). By analyzing both current and established highly cited articles, a more comprehensive understanding of future research directions is possible. In order to achieve this, first, fundamental components of value-co-creation are introduced. Then these aspects are related together to propose a possible integrated future framework for value-co-creation.

The components of value-co-creation research agenda

The initial and fundamental components of value-co-creation found from this study relate to service-dominant logic. A considerable number of articles concern the fundamental theoretical framework of value-co-creation. Part of this topic is about the approaches towards value-co-creation from a service-dominant logic perspective. Also, this topic comprises articles that study how co-creation happens and who is responsible for it (Vargo & Lusch,

2004, 2008). These articles show that value-co-creation is the result of both operant and operand sources. However, researchers showed that operant resources (e.g., knowledge, technology) play an essential role in creating competitive advantages (Edvardsson et al., 2011) and have a higher level of importance in obtaining a competitive advantage.

Secondly, the co-creation context is another identified topic in the co-creation research domain. As a form of value sphere, the co-creation level has been analyzed in both well- established and recent highly cited papers (Chandler & Vargo, 2011; Frow et al., 2016). More recent papers have studied the different contexts, both in micro (Hardyman et al.,

2015) and macro context (Leroy et al., 2013). The aim of context is to assess how different parties gather within different settings and co-create value together. Third, development is another important topic in value-co-creation, it includes articles that look at co-creation as a source of both product/service and customer relationship growth (Bogers et al., 2010; Kristensson et al., 2008; Thrift, 2006). A study done by Bogers et al. (2010) reveals how individuals as the primary source of innovation may be the final companies’ or consumers’ intermediate customers.

Fourth, communication is the next component of value-co-creation. A notable attribute of value-co-creation is that it happens in an ongoing interaction between customers and suppliers (van der Valk & Wynstra, 2012). The core interaction between the firms and suppliers can be virtual or physical (Gronroos & Voima, 2013). Also, interaction is a necessity for the integration of operant resources (knowledge-based resources). Vargo and Lusch (2008) suggest that the firm-interaction and the value derived from a specific experience are a result of customer-company interaction. Having a high-quality interaction makes customers co-create an invaluable experience with firms. Communication quality and its type have a huge impact on the configuration of the co-creation system. The final components of value-co-creation focus on value-co-creation applications. Value-co-creation has a wide range of forms including loyalty (Cossio-Silva et al., 2016), engagement (Storbacka et al.,

2016) , and brand reputation (Foroudi et al., 2019). Thus the role of value-co-creation application has been assessed in a variety of settings in value-co-creation.

Implications and future research directions An integrated framework for further value-co-creation

According to the main fundamental elements of value-co-creation found in bibliometric analysis, a possible future framework is proposed. Our suggested model is shown in Figure 15.2. This proposed model shows that resource integration has an impact on co-creation behavior, subsequently resulting in value-co-creation application. The integration of resources (operant and oper and resources) has an impact on communication (informational, communication, dialogue), co-creation context (micro, meso, and macro) and development (product/service, customer relationship) with the moderating role of interaction platforms (social media, online communities) - all of which can be considered as a way that customers behave during the co-creation time. Similarly, the combination of type, development, and level has an influence on the value-co-creation period. We also encourage future researchers to study the resources that customers can bring into the value-co-creation process. Also, trying to find out what makes customers participate in value-co-creation and bring their resources is increasingly becoming important. Future studies should attempt to discover

Proposed framework of future customer engagement research

FIGURE 15.2 Proposed framework of future customer engagement research.

whether or not specific personality traits are etfective in participating in value-co-creation. Additionally, finding the barriers that prevent customers from taking part in value-co- creation is equally essential.

Moving beyond B2B or B2C or C2C, the new S-D logic’s A2A (actor to actor) model increases the chance of cross-fertilization in different marketing subcategories (e.g., service marketing, B2C, etc.) (Vargo & Lusch, 2011). Consequently, further study is required to extend the knowledge of resources’ integration and value-co-creation in different types of co-creation actors (customers and firms). Future researchers are also encouraged to study the relationship between different context levels (macro, meso and micro) of institutions. Both empirical and conceptual studies can extend the knowledge of the value-co-creation context. In addition, a more compelling understanding of the meaning of value in different contexts is required to extend value-co-creation knowledge. Also, more complicated services, tourism and travel industries are equally important and interesting, as each of the contexts is labeled by different levels of co-creation practices and interactions.

The impact of service system resources on the co-creation process

The theme of integration of operand and operant resources and value-co-creation has been examined (Gronroos & Voima, 2013; Vargo et ah, 2008). In addition, resource integration has been connected to development (Cova & Dalli, 2009; Zwass, 2010). Previous studies have analyzed value-co-creation level at the micro (Frow et ah, 2016) and macro levels (Alves et ah, 2016). However, a limited number of studies have analyzed the impact of resource integration on the co-creation context, especially concerning the meso context. Future researchers are encouraged to analyze the role of the integration of resources on the different co-creation levels (such as macro level). What’s more, future study is required to explore the use of distinctive resources in a different context, which may lead to different levels of innovations.

Besides this, future researchers are encouraged to study the moderating role of interaction platforms in different contexts. On the other hand, they could also study the effect of different communication channels on the quality of customer relationship with the firm. Additionally, future researchers could also investigate the role of firm type (e.g., B2B) in value-co-creation. Do employees show the same level of interest in value-co-creation as customers? Is resource integration of the firm sufficient for employees to co-create with the firm? At the same time, further research is required on the technology platforms and other interactive platforms that enhance companies’ value-co-creation infrastructures. Future research can analyze the role of new engagement approaches, such as gamification, and how they can lead to the role of social and firm interaction.

Also, little is known concerning interaction platforms (online communities, social media, etc.) and their moderating effect on the association among resource integration and the value-co-creation process. Platforms such as online communities help customers comment freely about services or products (Brodie et al., 2013) and managers can use such feedback in their service or product development. Besides, online communities and social media can have an impact on the co-creation type quality (Storbacka et al., 2016). Also, when customers interact in online communities or on social media, managers can adopt new approaches for satisfying customer needs.

Moreover, future researchers can investigate the negative role and impact of interaction platforms on the incorporation of resources and value-co-creation system. When customers encounter negative feedback from another customer, they might stop co-creating with the firm. Also, firms cannot co-create with all customers due to their limited resources. Not being able to co-create with all customers can result in customer unsatisfaction. Customers’ online communities make the mcomment freely. So, when customers are not satisfied with the co-creation experience, they can show their negative impressions by word of mouth.

The influence of value-co-creation process on value-co-creation outcome

Plenty of researchers have analyzed the relationship of value-co-creation and value-co- creation outcomes (e.g., Waseem et al., 2018). Additionally, the influence of value-co- creation context on the value-co-creation application has not yet been studied. Similarly, the communication on value-co-creation outcomes has been studied to some degree (Igle- sias et al., 2018; Rihova et al., 2018). However, a more complete and more comprehensive evaluation between value-co-creation processes and value-co-creation outcomes is needed. Also, future researchers can explore the negative influence of value-co-creation system on the value-co-creation outcome. For instance, what happens when customer-firm innovation fails? Does it affect brand equity? Does it have an impact on brand loyalty and commitment? Also, future researchers are encouraged to compare the service of high co-creation and of low co-creation. Additionally, researchers can investigate the role of service failure strategies on highly co-created customers. Future studies can also analyze the negative action of service/product development failure on brand equity and loyalty.

Also, future researchers can try to answer questions such as whether co-creating a personalized experience for customers can have influence on their level of value-co-creation or not. Additionally, they could look at which value-co-creation level is more benefited by establishing trust. Does this remain the same during service or product development? Finally, we encourage future scholars to study longitudinal data to examine the impact of the value-co-creation process on firm performance.

Conclusion and limitation

Like any research, this research has some important limitations. Firstly, given the search keywords used, different ones such as ‘co-creation’ could have revealed distinctive MDS results. Future researchers are encouraged to use different terminology for identifying documents. Secondly, recent and established articles were the main focus of this study; many established articles receive a high number of citations due to the duration of their existence. Articles with fewer citations were excluded from the groups; analyzing these articles could identify further groups. Third, using different methods can validate further the outcomes. Future researchers are encouraged to undertake other analytical approaches such as hierarchical analysis (HCA) and exploratory factor analysis (EFA).

Case study: Cadbury and stakeholder relationships.

Setting the basis for value co-creation

Prahalad and Ramaswamy (2004) show that co-creation “is about joint creation of value by the company and the customer. It is not the firm trying to please the customer” (p. 8). Thus, involving stakeholders (not only customers) is the basis for starting a process that can take advantage of this trend.

This is what Cadbury is doing in the UK (https://www.cadbury.co.uk/).

Cadbury, is

a British multinational confectionery company wholly owned by Monde- lez International (originally Kraft Foods) since 2010. It is the second largest confectionery brand in the world after Mars. Cadbury operates in more than 50 countries worldwide. It is known for its Dairy Milk chocolate, the Creme Egg and Roses selection box, and many other confectionery products. One of the best-known British brands, in 2013 The Daily Telegraph named Cadbury among Britain’s most successful exports.


Like any other organization, Cadbury has to increase revenues, as this creates prosperity for the economy and wealth for the whole society (Dahya et al., 2002). It also has to give money back to shareholders and bondholders that have invested in the organization. It reaches this goal by offering to clients several well-known goods that they love to buy. Cadbury’s main objective is “working together to create brands people love” (https://www.cadbury.co.uk/community) and some of its brands in the UK are “Cadbury Dairy Milk; Bassett’s range including Liquorice Allsorts, Fruit Allsorts and Jelly Babies; Flake; Roses; Trebor Mints; Maynards” (https://www.cadbury.co.uk/products).

In 2000, Cadbury was considered ‘Britain’s Most Admired Company’ (Con- yon & Mallin, 1997; Dahya & McConnell, 2007). Having said that, it is interesting to analyze how Cadburyis involved in value co-creation processes with all its stakeholders.


Stakeholders and Cadbury: co-creation and engagement

A stakeholder is anyone who affects and/or is affected by corporate strategies and tactics. Stakeholders can be shareholders, the government, employees, customers, communities, suppliers, traders, distributors, media, competitors, etc.

In trying to attain the main goal of “working together to create brands people love”, Cadbury highlights that it works in order to meet stakeholders’ preferences and needs (Rowlinson & Hassard, 1993; Stiles & Taylor, 1993).

The company is in fact centered on five main goals: provide good performance; valuably boost confectionery share; advantageously grow beverages share; guarantee that corporate skills are high and strengthen the society’s/public’s opinion.

Therefore, in order to engage stakeholders and involve them in co-creation processes, it is important to set good communication standards between the organization and stakeholders.

Cadbury was built 150 years ago by the Cadbury family, who was very interested in taking care of employees. They built relations with stakeholders in order to achieve important benefits, such as employees worked hard, employees reached high level of productivity, the organization set a reputation as an excellent employer, the firm became famous for its products, business-to business customers aimed at supplying them and clients want to purchase the products, etc.

During the eighties, the organization expressed its devotion to stakeholders by publishing a book. Nowadays, Cadbury constantly listens to and works with stakeholders. Engaging with stakeholders ensures that potential problems are faced head on. Moreover, Cadbury creates habitual discussions with the public and usedseveral ways to talk with stakeholder groups.

Shareowners: the company has contacts with a huge number of shareowners. These are private individuals and institutional investors. Shareowners usually are called to visit the Annual Meeting, at which they discuss the corporate financial performance and express their opinions on many issues.

Consumers: they interact with the firm using several channels. The company deals with clients’ needs and develops market research to monitor changing requests on a daily basis.

Business to business customers (wholesalers and retailers): The company sets many interactions with retailers, as they offer the link to clients.

Suppliers: the firm has numerous international suppliers and its ethical standards shows how to interact with them. The organization has many conversations with suppliers. This partnership helps in understanding their needs and ensures that they match the corporate needs for quality. The company selects potential partners taking into consideration several standards linked with the protection of human resources.

Human resources: Cadbury encourages direct involvement with human resources. Managers set meetings to talk to colleagues. The firm also monitors how employees view working at Cadbury.

Society (public opinion and opinion leaders): The organization wants to be perceived as a citizen in the areas in which it operates and, thus, interacts with national governments and international bodies.


Having said that, it is clear that not all stakeholders are interested in having a constant conversation with the company nor in being involved in value co-creation processes. Cadbury, however, tries its best to listen to stakeholders and balance their requests with the main aim of attaining long-term corporate goals.

Therefore, communicating with the public does more than maintain their goodwill, set co-operation and sustain value co-creation: it allows the organization to live, be successful and makes sure that the business ethics of the company are defended.

Case questions

  • 1. After you have written down what Cadbury does in terms of value co-creation, including all of the benefits that the company achieves thanks to this approach, analyze what this issue has to otfer to the company.
  • 2. After you have written down what the main features of Cadbury’s stakeholder engagement activities are, including all of its benefits and costs, analyze what these actions have to offer communities, the government and labor market.
  • 3. After you have written down what value co-creation is, analyze other related activities that international companies successfully implement this approach.

Key terms and definitions

Service-dominant logic: it is a theoretical framework that shifted the academic literature of‘co-creation’ into a way of processing how value is developed within an exchange system; it provides a comprehensive understanding of value co-creation.

Co-creation: this entails setting a shared creation of value by the firm and the clients. It is not the company that aims at reaching the clients.

Value co-creation processes: this indicates actions, strategies and tactics part of the value co-creation.

Bibliometrics: this is described as a method for using mathematics and statistics to analyze books and other media.

Four diagnostic questions

  • 1. After you have written down what service-dominant logic is, including all of its features, list the reasons why companies do and do not follow this approach.
  • 2. After you have written down what co-creation is, including all of its benefits, analyze the relationship between what this approach has to offer and who might be interested in it.
  • 3. After you have written down what value co-creation processes are, including all of benefits, list the reasons why companies do and do not put them into action.
  • 4. After you have written down what bibliometrics is, including all of its pros and cons, analyze the method and list the reasons why researchers do and do not follow this approach.


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