The promise of Co-Creation: A Critical Investigation of Strategic Management Thought from Porter to Co-Creation

Anders Dahl Krabbe & Mads Schmidt Christensen

Student thesis: Master thesis


Introduced a little over a decade ago, the concept of co-creation has become an almost unavoidable phenomenon within contemporary business discourse and practice. Despite a broad interest in cocreation within mainstream business literature, as well as management research that is more critical towards business as such, little work has been done to critically assess the phenomenon of co-creation within the context of managerial thinking. Whereas the majority of the existing critical contributions have as their starting point an ethical or political anti-business agenda, this thesis aims at adding a needed critical perspective on co-creation by means of presenting a diagnosis of how co-creation can be said to present itself as a new business paradigm, as well as why it has been able to achieve such a significant degree of impact on contemporary business discourse. Through the analytical framework of the analysis of problematization, as found in the late work of Michel Foucault, this thesis presents an extensive analysis of the co-creation discourse as well as other central works within the discipline of strategic management. Initially, an overall account of the intellectual origin of co-creation within managerial thought, as well as an analysis of what new perspectives the co-creative value paradigm brings forth on issues such as the nature of value, the constitution of the firm and the relation between firm and market, is presented. Following this, the analysis explores two central areas of problematization, which have provided resonance for the emergence and manifestation of co-creation. The first of these areas is shown to be revolving around a problematization of the idea of value being embedded in matter and something that is created solely within the boundaries firm, while the later of the two problematizations center upon a view of the market as a static entity. The thesis concludes by opening a discussion of whether cocreation in its current manifestation still provides relevant answers to the deep-seated challenges, which initially enabled its momentum and impact.

EducationsMSc in Philosophy, (Graduate Programme) Final Thesis
Publication date2013
Number of pages130